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The Second Patient I Keep in Touch With

Here is the story of the second time I broke the no keeping in touch with patients. It is a little lengthy but amazing.

It was December 31, 1999, and Y2K was coming up fast. I was at a wedding reception with most of my family. My friends Denise and Dennis decided to get married and risk the fall of the world which did not happen. At the same time T was admitted to another hospital with flu-like symptoms that would quickly be diagnosed as meningococcal meningitis. It is the bad kind, the really bad kind with a not very high survival rate.
Sometime in February T was transferred to Mercy burn unit for would care. He had survived the meningitis but the vasopressor medicines he needed to keep him with a blood pressure to stay alive had destroyed the circulation to his hands and feet. They were pretty much black when the burn unit met him. I believe he may have still been on life support as well as dialysis for kidney failure. He was twenty-nine years old and had a picture of himself crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in under four hours. I can still see the picture as if it was yesterday. I was not a runner, never planned to be but was so impressed by this.
He wasn’t with us long before it was apparent the only thing to do was amputations and we started with his legs. I will never forget I was his nurse the night his mother had to sign the consents. She asked to talk to the doctor and others were like she already talked to him once. Looking back and being a mother myself I totally understand. I had a really hard time witnessing the consent because he just ran the Chicago marathon and this would most likely prevent him from ever running again. By the time the surgeries were completed and down to viable tissue T was left with one leg above the knee, one below the knee, one hand gone and the other arm mid forearm. However he was alive and it wasn’t too long before he peed on my best burn unit buddy. She was never so happy to be peed on! He was out of kidney failure and soon off of dialysis.
He then was transferred to rehab which at the time was still in the hospital on the third floor. I worked three to eleven back then so would often stop by and see him. I will never forget one day when we were talking and I told him I would rather be dead. (Leave it to me and my brutal honesty. I can still see the look of utter shock on his face) He said “not me I still have plenty of things I want to do.”
He was discharged on May 5 and started outpatient therapy. I would stop in and see his progress from time to time. He was learning how to walk and use both prosthetic arms. I visited one day when he was trying to button a shirt. I was so frustrated just watching him but he never gave up. During this time I would mail him crazy stories of my life. (Foreshadowing for this blog I suppose.)
My nephew was born in August and T sent me a hand written sympathy card. He was only three months home from the hospital. I have it in my scrapbook on Andrews page. It blew me away and his prosthetic hand writing was better than mine with real hands.
The 2002 Winter Olympics were to be held in Salt Lake City Utah and T set a goal to walk and carry the Olympic torch when it came through St. Louis. He met that goal 1/6/02 and I took Emily and Kayla out of school. I even had my scheduled changed and my manager was thrilled I went and asked to see the pictures.

Kayla is hiding behind Emily in the picture. This was before the day of my digital camera so the pictures are not the best but they still make me smile when I look at them.

 

T was a Pharmacist with a doctorate degree and decided to go back to law school in the fall of 2002. He decided he wanted to fight for disability rights. So he applied, attended, graduated summa cum laude and passed the boards. He then taught pharmacy law at St. Louis College of Pharmacy for a few years. He then moved out-of-state to practice law and then eventually moved back to the midwest and again taught law at a pharmacy school. It seems he may be the dean of the school but I’m not positive.
I have received a Christmas card every year from his as well. He always has a small hand written note for me. This year his mother said to tell me hi! That so touched my heart. I have not seen her since he carried the torch.
I find myself thinking of T when I’m running and it gets really, really hard. For a full marathon that is somewhere around the twenty-mile mark. When I ran the fifty mile it was the last ten miles. I often tell myself I am running for him. He had hoped one day to do the Chicago marathon again but that never happened. I think it takes a lot of energy to walk on prosthetic legs.
Currently there is such an anti vaccine movement in this country that I am going to take this opportunity to say that when T came down with meningitis there was not a vaccine for it. There is now and although it is rare I would bet my house he would tell everyone to get it. The only reason he survived was because he was in top shape from marathon training. (I remember the doctors telling him back in the day.) I am pretty sure he’d rather risk autism, big pharma getting rich, government poison and mind control over waking up two months later after thinking he had the flu to discover he had meningitis and now would have to learn how to use four prosthetics and relearn how to take care of himself.
Mole Moral ~ I’ve taken care of some amazing people over the years but T is by far the most incredible person I have ever met, that taught me a lot, and I’m so glad I reached out to him with my first note when he was in rehab.
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Breaking A Rule

There are two specific rules regarding patients that I remember well from nursing school. The first is never date a patient. You can read about that fiasco here. The second was to never keep in touch with patients because they felt you wouldn’t follow through. Remember I was in nursing school before the internet, social media, cell phones etc. All of these have just added another layer of rules. I usually follow rules but I have broken this one twice.

It was 1988 and I was in my OB/GYN clinical’s at Deaconess. We had to pick a patient who would be delivering during the rotation, make a home visit before delivery, attend the delivery if possible, do a home visit after and most likely write a paper on a type writer. I can’t remember exactly. I did all of this and I saw the baby be born. I then went to SIUE for my bachelors degree and I had to do a home visit for one of those classes (it may have been nutrition, I seriously have no idea) so J agreed to let me come again.
J and I kept in touch all these years. Hers is always the first Christmas card I receive every year. Sometimes there would be pictures of N and her older brothers and then all of a sudden the brothers were married (like a nine-year age gap) and then N was married but did not seem possible.
A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to N’s baby shower. I was so excited even though there was no possible way she is thirty-one this month. They were having it at the rec center where I run when it’s too cold or too hot outside. And then I looked again at the date and realized it was at the same time my husband and I had tickets to the hockey game.
In true crazy Rachel self I jumped into action and made a granny square baby blanket. I then mailed a box full of baby shower gifts with a note to both J and N. Some time passed and then I received a Facebook message from N and since have become Facebook friends with both of them.
N started having issues with the pregnancy. Issues I’m familiar with since we have all the moms whose babies go to NICU on our floor. Our floor connects to it so it makes more sense than having them on the floor three floors above us. She ended up having the baby this past week and the shower was cancelled. She and baby are doing good so sometime in the future they are planning a meet and greet. I maybe work two weekend shifts a month but with my shleprock luck, it will be then.
I would have never imagined that this is how things would turn out thirty-one years ago when I picked a random name for my assignment. What a truly wonderful blessing J has been to me and I’m glad I didn’t follow the rules. I’ll save the other patient for another blog.
Mole moral~ Breaking the rules can sometimes be wonderful!
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Happy 2319 Day

For those of you who don’t know me, you do not know my love of Monsters Inc. I thought it was one of the most cleverly written movies of all time, just like Toy Story. When Allyson was little her Aunt Teresa bought her a Monsters Inc game for the computer and she and I played it quite a bit until we beat it like five times. Anyway to get into Monster world you have to put the code in which of course was 2319. When George comes back from a kids room with a sock stuck his back the guy yells “we have a 2319” and the CDA (child detection agency) shows up, shaves him bald and destroys the sock like it’s a bomb. So today is 2/3/19 and I have been looking forward to it for a month.

Way back in 2009, I ran my second half marathon. I was so excited when I picked up my bib number. What are the odds?

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Then a little over five years ago Women’s Health moved from the fifth floor to the newly renovated second floor with four digit numbers. I don’t think I was on the floor more than ten minutes before I noticed one of our rooms was numbered 2319. This is my favorite room and even though it’s really no different from any other room it is still special. Three or four years ago I decided to place stockings on each room door and if you read them in room order, they tell the story of Jesus’ birth. All of them are red with white tops except 2319. It looks like this.

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This year I decided to make hearts for our room doors with the verse 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. My manager teased me about the hearts but within three days, three of them had been taken by patients including 2319. You see on 2319’s heart I put this.

Eye for You

I would like to have something on the room doors year round because I think it brightens the place up. I am sure I can find a Monsters Inc picture to fit my needs.

 

Mole Moral~ This day would have been perfect if the super bowl wouldn’t have fallen on it. Not a fan, not now, not ever!

 

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Don’t Waste Your Pain

That catchy phrase was the title of this past weeks church talk or sermon. Sermon just sounds so formal and bossy. Usually when any of our pastors are speaking it just seems like they are talking like they normally do. As in nothing too formal or bossy and they aren’t screaming, “if you don’t accept Jesus into your heart right now and you die tomorrow you will burn in hell.” Anyway I digress.

Two weeks ago the message was don’t waste your words and you should lift others up instead of gossiping and complaining. All that did for me was make me realize how much I do both and I don’t think I have cut down on either. I will always be a work in progress.

A few weeks back I received devastating information and I became really upset and told God to F off for a while. Yes I really did throw the F bomb at him and told him to go away. I kept thinking of  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I also called that the biggest bunch of BS I have ever read. Yes, I was in a horrible place.

I talked to my mom about it and I remembered that verse is from the Old Testament. You know before Jesus showed up. Then a day or two later this popped into my head

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I wish I could say I knew the chapter and the verse where these came from but I don’t. I know a ton of bible verses but not the chapter and verse. There is this website I use called http://www.biblegateway.com that I learned about from the Pastors at my church. Anyway, I was still pretty mad at God and my next thought was why don’t you just end this freaking experiment already and have Jesus return. He never listens to me.

Painful things lead to one of two things, you either become bitter or better. I remember all those years ago when everyone prayed for my nephew and he lived just six short hours. I had that choice to make and I chose better. I could have stayed in the burn unit and been hateful and unhappy but instead I went to women’s health where I took care of moms who had lost their baby. I did some different things for them over the years. I shared my sister in laws story. I use to give out a CD that a friend of mine had made. I made a bunch of pillows and would put the foot prints on them with the baby’s name and birthdate. (Andrew’s nurse took the pillow I had cross stitched with his name and put his foot prints on it.)  Recently I got super carried away and crocheted about forty blankets so the program is well stocked for a while.

I’m not as mad as I was. After Herc was finished speaking on Sunday I told God he could come back around again. He knows I’m crazy and he made me this way, so he shouldn’t expect anything different. Hopefully I am as entertaining to him as I am everyone else.

Mole Moral~ It’s ok to NOT be ok, it’s NOT ok to stay that way.

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Christmas Angel Mole Style

The year was 2004 and it was our first Christmas at Oak Bridge Community Church. Pastor Tom spoke about a program called Christmas Angel where for 12 days before Christmas you pick someone and drop a gift off and run. On night one it was one of something, night two, two of something etc. The key was to not get caught and choose someone who was going through a rough time or needed a lift at Christmas. Our first angel came immediately to my mind and we bought all the gifts. We had a great time that year and on the eleventh day we were left cookies and a poem. The poem is in the family scrapbook. Over the years we have sometimes done two people. Twice the work but twice the reward. 
This year my Christmas angel came to me in mid July while at work. I walked into angel #19 room and I knew she was the one. It’s just a feeling I had and I looked up her address later that night.  She lived fairly close and I thought score. I knew she would need chemo therapy first and then surgery. Based on the dates I knew surgery would be close to Halloween. Her original surgery date was scheduled for a day I was off work. I had the supervisor change my schedule so I would be at work. The next week I discovered her surgery had been moved to the week of Halloween. I of course was in Disney. 
The night before this was to start I read a friends Facebook post and I hadn’t even finished it when I felt God say do her as well. I was like are you kidding this starts tomorrow night and I’m heading into work. However my after work plans got cancelled so I went to the store and actually managed to find all twelve days in one visit. This rarely happens because odd days are tough. I work with this girl so I asked our supervisor for her address. She did not live anywhere close to my other girl or me for that matter. The next night it was game on. 
I worked the first night but ran home to pick up Allyson. I needed help locating the houses. Allyson looks over at me and says what if they have a porch camera. That triggered an entire new wave of paranoia. I knew my friend would recognize me and wasn’t sure about the patient. So on the nights I did it, I wore this. 


I was not taking any chances of getting caught. The friend’s house always had something crazy going on. One day a car was parked in the driveway with the headlights on. Another day the car door was open but no one around. The best night I get out of the car and someone is calling their dog. I’m not sure if it’s them or not so I get back in. I get back out and someone comes out the door of the house and hops in the car. I get back in and try to act causal. 
The patients house was quite interesting. On the third day they put up an inflatable Christmas duck. Allyson came back and said be careful there are wires everywhere and I don’t want you to trip and fall. Also if you walked in front of the garage the super power light would flash on. I finally got smart and walked on the other side of the street and hit the doorbell from the opposite side of the porch. It was day eight that I was almost caught. As I am sprinting away I hear this “who are you?”  It scared the crap out of me and I didn’t know what the rules were so I kept running and yelled “can’t tell you” without turning around. I decided it would be nice to write on day nine note “I will reveal who I am and why you were chosen on Christmas Eve (day 12). If you are not home I will leave a note with the day twelve gift. Now according to church you are not to reveal yourself ever. However, if someone angeled me and never told me it would make me crazier than I already am. So I usually place a note on day twelve, ring the bell and run. 
Day ten arrives and it dawns on me that I don’t think my friend lives at the address I’m dropping gifts off at. So I get home that night and get on Facebook and start looking at her recent pictures. Sure enough it looks like she is living in an apartment and then I remember a post about her dishwasher breaking in a brand new apartment. So I then found her maiden name and found her parents address which matched the gift drop off location. I also looked her up by her married name and an apartment address was revealed. 
I told a couple of people about the wrong address and they asked what are you doing to do? I said I’m going to drop off day eleven and twelve like I had planned as there is a reason God told me to do this. In the meantime Allyson and I decided that we would also stop on day twelve and see my friend who we thought we were dropping the gifts off for. I sent her a message asking for her address to confirm the white pages were correct. 
So today was day twelve and only the second time I have ever knocked on the door and waited for the people to answer. I was a nervous wreck waiting for the girl who almost caught me. They invited me in and then asked who I was. So they kind of remembered me as the nurse after I dropped a few reminders. They said they eliminated all their family and friends and couldn’t think of anyone else. They did decide that mercy had way too many patients for it to be them. (Also Mercy could not do this because of the stark law, they aren’t allowed to give any thing to a patient more than ten bucks). Apparently it was driving her crazy who it was and so the day she got the note she showed her sister. She called and texted people every night about what gift she received. As I was leaving I noticed the Christmas ornament from day one hanging on the front door and she said it was there the entire time. I said I was so paranoid about being caught I never noticed. It made their entire Christmas and gave them something to look forward to. They also gave me a gift which was not expected or necessary. I accept gifts almost as well as hugs. However this is beautiful and if I would have put a tree up this year I would have hung it on there the minute I got home. 


Next stop was the apartment. I asked if she knew it was me and said not until I posted about trying to do something nice and it turning into a comedy. That made her kind of suspect me. Her parents and she wondered if it was supposed to be for her based on the gifts. She has a five-year old so I had a blast finding stuff for kids. My favorite was day one, it was a gingerbread bat cave and bat car. She told me her son would call grandma  every night and ask what the angel left. It brought her parents closer together. After we saw her we did our last drop and run at her parents house and I left them my note about who I was and the story. 
And as we were driving away I realized I experienced what this is all about. To show people love and kindness during what can be a stressful time. Yes Allyson and I would leave the house knowing we wouldn’t be back for at least two hours. All kinds of crazy stuff happened, like almost getting caught, seeing a deer on the sidewalk, driving around the block three and four times till the front was clear, getting out of work late every single time causing me to barely make it to second house before nine. However all kinds of cool stuff happened too. Allyson and I debated blonde Oreos vs chocolate. I ate these yummy white chocolate peppermint covered thin pretzels almost every night. Allyson got to meet someone she had always wanted to meet and wrote him a huge letter. She had a story to tell! But the greatest part of all was being able to see what a little bit of kindness made such a huge impact. I give up as I cannot find words to describe it. I would encourage every single person reading this to do this just one Christmas. It is the part of Christmas we most look forward to. We have family memories that will last forever. I will do this until I can no longer run fast enough not to get caught. 

Mole moral ~ If you move please notify your employer, you never know who might need your address or why.

Merry Christmas 

 

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A true Disney rumor

I had always heard that at Disney you go to bed on October 31 and the parks are decorated for Halloween and when you wake up the next morning they are decorated for Christmas. Because I live in the show me state I wanted to see this for myself. It worked out well because Halloween was on a Wednesday when we visited. Our back stage tour was on Tuesday so one of the other couples asked our guide and she said yes it would happen. She said everything but the trees would be up on the first and the trees would be up on the second. I found this totally incredible considering the park was open until midnight on Halloween and probably closer to one before everyone got out of there and then opened again at nine am. We went to Magic Kingdom on the second and since pictures speak a thousand words I’m ending this with them.

 

Mole Moral ~ Seeing is believing!

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Missing in my inbox

There are three blogs that I have delivered via email so that I never miss them. They are by far my favorite. A couple of weeks ago I thought to myself, where is Beauty Beyond Bones? so I went to her site and read that day’s post. I didn’t think about it anymore until yesterday when I was checking my spam folder for something else and I realized nothing from WordPress had come through in three weeks.

Fractured Faith Blog writes daily and I can’t believe I didn’t realize I wasn’t getting his. He lives in Ireland and has been writing a book for months. I wish he would just self publish so I could read it already. He also writes about running and his struggle with faith.

Just another weight loss story maybe publishes once a week but they crack me up every time. She puts a spin on diet and exercise that is like no other. I sometimes forward them to my friends to read as well. She is also up for an award for best blog in South Africa. I of course voted for her.

I cannot believe that I get every type of junk mail, that I cannot get unsubscribed to, but yet my favorites were all sent to spam. It’s ridiculous. So I just spend ten minutes marking them all as not spam and I best start getting them back in my inbox. Until then I have twenty-four to catch up on.

 

Mole Moral ~ Check your spam every once in a while, you never know someone may have slipped through the cracks!