Murder and Mayhem

It’s chaos out there. Utter chaos. But quarantine is not what’s on my mind this week. No, I’m still reeling from the everyday, run-of-the-mill events of this past week at work. Have you ever taken care of a murderer in your line of work? Nope? Not suprising. (Clue…It was the colonel with the candlestick in the library….)

Well, life and death often go hand in hand; after all, nursing is all about the circle of life. Earlier this week, not only did I help code a murder victim, but I also took care of the accused only hours later. It’s a bit of a surreal feeling; we did our very best, but a gunshot wound to the chest is not something that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can ever put back together again. And as remorseful as a soul can be, there’s no returning anyone back to life after a split-second action gone wrong. I mourned for everyone involved in the scenario. The young children who no longer have someone to call “Mommy”, the mother who lost her adult child, and the poor soul who “accidentally” discharged the weapon mere feet away from his girlfriend’s chest. His life will be over from this point on. He can never close his eyes and forget what happened or the consequences of his actions. He will be reviled and hated for the rest of his imprisoned days. His tears were real, and far from over. And of course, there were extenuating circumstances. (There always are, it seems like, but I can’t speak to that here.) I shudder to think of what the girl’s family is going through. Unimaginable pain and loss, and the day after Mother’s Day, at that. So, so incredibly sad…..

The night after that, I was called in to work due to an emergency c-section for a 27-weeker who was bleeding and in labor. There were tears in that room that night as well. Tears of fear…and pain…and then JOY when the baby responded to care. It is always miraculeous to see a baby that small respond to modern-day emergency medical care. We are a small hospital — to enjoy the benefits of a NICCU team, we have to call ahead of time and arrange their 1+hour drive to our facility. They work alongside our nurses to stabilize the baby for several hours before loading up and driving the 1+hour back to OKC. They are courage under fire, calm under pressure…it is always amazing to see them at work!

I also took care of my first-ever case of mumps this week. Having never seen it before except in textbooks, it was still immediately recognisable. My first question was, “Have you had your immunizations?” Interestingly enough, it was the doc’s exact same first question, so I knew we were both thinking the same thing. I’m telling you, it’s been a weird week, and it’s not even full moon.

All this is going on while the covid virus is still running amok and causing chaos. Or, at least in our area, the covid restrictions are causing chaos. We have been extremely fortunate to not have the virus in our town, other than a handful of cases which have all been resolved. I hope you have been fortunate wherever you are as well.

2020 has not been a stellar year for anyone. For us, it started with the death of an extended family member hours after the ball dropped to bring in the New Year. Then, an unexpected death of a dear friend on January 4th, and it just went downhill from there. A huge house renovation has hit multiple snags and delays for us during all this. We are still fostering the same child we’ve had for three separate placements now. Parental termination hearings have been delayed several times, but are finally happening in two weeks, if all goes according to plan. We anxiously await to see if we will be able to adopt him. We have been “in limbo” for so long, it seems like we will wait forever to find out. Such is the foster care system, and I repeatedly remind myself that patience is a virtue.

That’s my life in a nutshell, how is yours? We are all in this thing called life together. We may not be in the same vicinity, and our covid restrictions may not look the same, but we are all experiencing loss and change at the same time. We are all learning new things about ourselves, as well as our neighbors and coworkers. If you didn’t know before if you’re considered “essential” or not, you know now. If you didn’t know before if you’re an extrovert or introvert, you certainly know now. ūüôā Perhaps you’ve learned a new skill or taken up a new hobby. Maybe you’ve found new favorite TV shows or movies that have helped you get through this. Maybe you are a better cook, or gardener, or family member, etc, after all of this. I hope this finds you well and slowly returning to a more normal lifestyle. May there be peace in the midst of our chaos, and hope amid our covid fears. I have faith that we will come through this stronger than when we started. We have a better understanding of our fellowman, and a stronger sense of identity. We have hopefully gained a better appreciation for what’s truly important in life, and can take that with us into a better future.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ” John 14:27

                                 Nurse Ames, RN

 

Katie Brack Day

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So… I know we all have them. ¬†If you don’t, you will sooner or later. ¬†(And consider yourself very lucky if you don’t already.) ¬†You know them, those days we all dread…those silent, looming anniversaries of some terror, some horror, perhaps the loss of a loved one. ¬†Maybe it was the day you were told you had cancer, or that your loved one was killed unexpectedly in an accident, or the day you realised you’ve lost everything you’ve ever worked for. ¬†Your spouse was unfaithful, your dog died, another war started and your loved one didn’t make it back alive. ¬†So, so many things in this life can and do go wrong. ¬†And we go through the stages of grieving, and we gradually recover, because we are a resilient people. ¬† But there’s always that day that comes around once a year, that day on the calendar, that marks for you a space in time to stop and remember. ¬†To grieve anew, to honor what was lost, to put into perspective what time and change has wrought. ¬†Everyone deals with that day on the calendar differently.

I have been radio silent the past two weeks for that reason. ¬†(Well, that, and partly because I was on a Carribean cruise soaking up some sun–I really was radio silent and unable to write during that time. )

This past week marked the 21st anniversary of when my beautiful five year-old goddaughter passed away unexpectedly in my home. ¬†A whole person’s drinking age life-time ago. ¬†I have had three great kids of my own, helped care for numerous foster kids, have taken care of oh-so-many kids in the healthcare system as a nurse, and still the ache remains. ¬†Oh, time has greatly helped heal the wound. ¬†Now the anniversary is more of a tug at an old scar vs. ripping my heart open again, like it used to years ago. ¬†The way I remember the day is different now than what it used to be–I don’t fall to pieces anymore, for one thing. ¬†I still cry a few bitter tears each year, and we still plant flowers in her “memory garden”, and my hubby makes sure I know he remembers too. ¬† I message her parents, who are divorced now and live in different states than we do. ¬†We check in on each other, make sure the other is doing okay. ¬†And I look at her scrapbook, and remember all the beautiful, wonderful things about her. ¬†All the things that made her so uniquely “her”, that made her so sweet and loveable, despite her severe level of cerebral palsy.

To this day, I have a hard time talking about the details of that day. ¬†We’ve since moved to another state, where no one knew her, or what happened. ¬†It’s easier to not talk about it at all. ¬†But I made a promise to her and her parents. ¬†That her short little life was not lived in vain, she did have a purpose, and I will always strive to keep her memory alive in whatever way I can. ¬†I tell my friends and coworkers about her. ¬†I tell my kids about her. ¬† When we go “back home” to visit every couple of years, I take them to the cemetery with me to visit her. ¬†(And then I choke up and start crying and I whisper to her I will see her in heaven someday, and I have to leave before I’m a complete wreck.)

I suspect you know what I’m talking about. ¬†Your scenario might not look the same. ¬†You might handle grief totally different than I do. ¬†But we all have those memories, those moments in time that stand out starkly in our minds. ¬†It’s one of the things that bonds us together as humanity. ¬†Just as a smile is universal, so is crying and shaking your fist at the sky.

Whether it’s been two years or ten, or way longer than that, grief and loss never totally go away. ¬†We are grateful that the sharp sting fades away, and the jagged edges smooth away like rocks worn smooth in a stream. ¬†But that takes time, and time means days and weeks and years. ¬†Which, of course, means anniversaries that roll relentlessly by.

If you still struggle with the anniversary part of the grieving process, I encourage you to start something new to carry on as a tradition for years to come. ¬†Something that lets you vent your grief in a positive way, to honor your memories, to help you get through it. ¬†And when it’s come and gone, and you can breathe a sigh of relief again, whisper a prayer of thanks that it won’t roll around again for another year. ¬†And hopefully by then, it will be easier to deal with. ¬†Trust me, I’ve been there.

Rest in Peace,  KatieBug,  I Love You

4-25-93 ¬†— ¬†6-6-98

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                            Nurse Ames, RN