Jul 12, 2011

An Ode to All the Nurses

My mom is in the hospital. Again. As she is four years in to a three-to-five year life expectancy with pulmonary fibrosis, this is not an unusual thing. It has happened before and it will likely happen again. Or this may be the last time -- we just don't know. But her illness is one of the reasons I moved back to Michigan -- so my children could get to know and spend time with their grandmother and I am grateful for every moment they, and I, have with her.

This is not a story about my mom. I have told other stories about her, and will likely tell more as there are many stories to tell. This is about the nurses who have cared for her, with humor, with dignity, with grace, and with professionalism throughout my mother's medical ordeal. To them I say, thank you.

I know several nurses, my best friend is a hospice nurse. I don't know what kind of calling you hear that makes you want to deal with the things that a nurse does.  I'm not talking just blood, and other bodily fluids. Bedpans and catheters. I'm talking the death, the grief, the angry patients and angry relatives who, in their frustration and lack of understanding, take things out on you.

My friend Tammi has sat with hundreds of people doing everything in her power to ease people's transition from life to death.  She has cried with family members. She has prayed with them.  She has cleaned their bodies and their homes and done everything she can to show kindness and compassion.  Death is an ugly thing and what Tammi does is beautiful. 

I remember one story. I'm sure I won't get all the details right but the crux of the story was this: a man was dying. He was in his home, surrounded by the people he loved and who loved him. The end was near. Tammi was checking the man's vitals, holding his wrist to track his pulse. His wife of many years didn't want to release her husband, not for a second, so she held Tammi's hand, while Tammi held her husband.  And Tammi sat like that for hours, as a conduit between these two people as she counted down the seconds of this man's life.

I think that's amazing.

I have another friend, Lisa, who is an RN in the stroke unit of a hospital in California. The stress of what she must deal with on a daily basis blows my mind. In her world, she literally makes life and death decisions in milliseconds. The other day she commented on how she had catheterized a patient in 20+ seconds, saving a crashing patient.  And she brushes it off like it's no big deal.

I think that's a VERY big deal.

Throughout my mother's ordeal I have dealt with many, many nurses. They are all amazing. Every single one of them has cared for my mother as if she were their own mother. They have sat up with her all night when we were told the end was very near and kept her calm. And kept her company. And laughed with her. And cried with her.  They have answered my multitude of questions honestly and directly.  They have respected our decisions. They have hugged me and held my hand. They have gotten me blankets, and drinks, and checked to see if we've eaten.  They have cared for my mother spectacularly, and they have cared for me and the rest of my family as well.

These nurses, these professionals, they are overworked. And underpaid. They do the brunt of the work and take the blame when things go wrong, most of the time about things completely out of their control.  They are yelled at. They have been beaten, broken, bitten and bruised by drunk and disorderly patients or the mentally disturbed.  They have been pooped on, puked on, peed on and bled on and they don't miss a beat. They are still in there, fighting for life.  Anyone's life.  Everyone's life.

My mother also has wonderful doctors who have seen to her but it's the nurses who have cared for her. It is the nurses who have done the healing. And while my mother will never be healed, they have certainly not given up on her. These women (and men) are bigger than angels. They are deities.

I don't know when my mother's story will end. Or how it will end. But I know that when it does, there will be a nurse standing by, holding her hand, caring for her right until the very end.  And for that I say...

Thank you.

Jul 7, 2011

Caution -- This Blog Will Offend

I mean it. This one is going to piss some people off.  I know it, and I'm writing it anyway.  If you don't like it, I suggest you don't read it and you can save your nasty comments because I don't care. This is my blog -- you can go write your dissenting opinion on your own blog.

Neener Neener Neener.

Caylee Anthony is dead. D.E.A.D. And no amount of porch light flickering, horn honking, candlelight vigils or status updates are going to change this sad fact. Keeping the balloon floating by posting a picture of a dead baby that you don't even know isn't going to change a damn thing. There will be no "Facebook Posts Reincarnate Dead Child" happening here.  Turning your porch light on isn't a tribute -- it's a waste of electricity.  And wherever Caylee Anthony is -- your porch light isn't affecting her one way or another.

I seriously wonder about my Facebook "friends" whose pages have been filled with posts about Caylee Anthony.  What is your interest here? Is it because it's the leading story on the network news and, like lemmings, you're jumping off the cliff of outrage they're spouting?  Because, honestly, changing your goddamn Facebook status (when you're not busy playing Farmville and liking your friend's 4th of July parade photos) isn't making an ounce of difference in the life and death of that child. Not a bit.

Yes, Casey Anthony was acquitted. Yes, that probably sucks. But our justice system is what it is and all of your outrage isn't going to make a lick of difference to Ms. Anthony either. She's going to make an absolute fortune on media appearances, book deals, and interviews. She's going to be on the cover of People magazine. She's going to talk to Oprah. Her defense attorneys will be interviewed by Larry King or Geraldo or whoever manages to secure the booking. And that's just the way it is. We're the culture who's made an international star out of someone whose only claim to fame was being peed on by Brandy's brother. And Casey Anthony is now a celebrity. Deal with it.

God bless America.

Casey Anthony is an attractive white woman who likely walked away from the murder of her adorable 2 year old white child and she is going to make fucking bank on the tragedy.  Your Facebook and Twitter outrage does nothing except tell the media organizations that our interest is skyrocketing and they should pay all KINDS of money to get Ms. Anthony on their show. Right fucking now.

In my hometown another adorable white female child went missing just over a week ago.  Only this time, we're talking about a 4 month old infant.  Katherine Shelbie Elizabeth Phillips was abducted, allegedly by her father.  He is now in custody but he's not talking.  And the baby has not been found.  Her Amber Alert can be found here.

Sad. Incredibly, terribly, awfully, heartbreakingly sad.

However, since this happened I think I've read about 500 posts on my Facebook about find Baby Katie, pray for Baby Katie, hugs for Baby Katie. No. Just. No. Baby Katie is not going to be found by your Facebook status. Baby Katie is going to be found if you get your ass away from your computer and join the damn search and rescue crew. Walk the fields. Search the woods. DO something.

And for every idiot that posts "Our prayers will help keep Baby Katie alive" I want to scream, "NO THEY WON'T!!!"  Yeah, yeah, yeah. The power of prayer.  I hate to break it to you, but your prayer is not going to keep a four-month-old infant alive. Food, water, shelter... those are what keep four-month-old infants alive. There's only one way that this ends happy -- the father passed the child off to someone else to care for and the authorities eventually track that person down. But if he left this child out in the elements -- she's gone. And all the Facebook status updates in the world aren't going to change that.

2,185 children are reported missing every day. Three to five children are murdered every day by their parents. And yet, I haven't seen a single report where a Facebook status or Tweet has found any of them, or convicted any of their murderers. So -- let's stop with all the hysteria, stop being lemmings, and do something that actually matters.

You want to do something? You want to help? Try here:

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The National Vigil for Hope -- A national coalition to bring more awareness to missing children and adults.

Angel's Wings Air Search and Rescue

Child Find of America

Or simply Google "Help Find Missing Children" to see what you can do.

I guarantee -- not one of them suggest "change your Facebook status" or "Turn your porch light on".