Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tonight, you are therapy.

**I'm posting this without a lot of proofreading and censoring.  Normally, I'd go back and rewrite my thoughts to make it more clear and fluid.  I've reread it, it feels choppy.  It is raw.  It will stay raw. 

I had a good day today.  It's been snowing here in Portland, but I made it to "the hill" fine and was so thankful for the opportunities set before me today.  I spent most of my day in the Pediatric PACU (post anesthesia care unit-the Operating Room) and the Pediatric ED.  Let me first just fill you in on the ED, I saw a few discharges and one admission.  Not a whole lot goin' on today, maybe the snow kept people away, but the PACU was altogether a different kind of day.  I started with patient admission (observing), followed the patient into surgery, yes I watched a "direct vagus nerve stimulation" procedure, and then followed the patient to recovery.

My patient:
27 months old, male, born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice and a knot in the actual cord that caused a lack of oxygen which led to cerebral palsy.

So, I was fine today.  My heart is a little more sensitive tonight.  The surgery was incredible, watching the surgeons, the nurses, the anesthesiologists, the actual procedure, sterile technique.  You could see a square of about 5 inches x 5 inches of his body, but nothing else.  So, when they pulled all the drapes off, I was a little helpless with the fact that this little babe was laying there on the table.  It wasn't the kind of emotion that would push one away from the situation, my word!, this little pacemaker-like-device is supposed to decrease the number of seizures this little body experiences.  It was the kind of emotion that stirs up compassion for our imperfect human bodies…maybe more.  I can't yet nail that one.

I went from the OR to recovery with the little guy and then went to fetch his mother when he was awake so she could come back and see him.  She comforted him, then the nurse asked her if she'd like to hold him and she did.  So, as he was being observed-vitals, pain, breathing on his own and waiting for a room on another floor to open up, his mother sat there and rocked him.

Tonight, as I reflect on my time with her, I want to go back.  I don't regret anything said, it felt special.  She was fairly soft spoken, very nurturing, and we just began to chat.  After all, I wasn't going anywhere, I was following this little guy in an exercise of observing the PACU.  She asked me about nursing school, told me about her other two boys, and then she began to share some things that made me realize the difficult nature of caring for someone utterly dependent.  He is developmentally delayed and will not walk.  I'm learning, cerebral palsy comes in different forms/varying degrees.  His was advanced, including the seizures and this new little device to help since medications were not working.  AND then, Mom began to share his story with me-all about her pregnancies with each boy and how she didn't know anything was wrong.  She recalled the day with me and came to a point where she began to break down, "I always cry when I get to this part."  Then, after a minute or so, she told me how the doctors had returned with the news that her 3rd child was affected by the knot in the umbilical cord.  As she cried and glanced up at me trying to read my reaction, I didn't budge, I just kept my gaze directly on her.  I have learned the significance and weight of eye contact.  I was standing across the bed as she spoke.  Sometimes I'm unclear as to what kind of physical contact is ok with patients and families.  I know it's good and I believe in it, but as a nursing student, I have not yet found my jive there.  So, I hugged her with my gaze.  I know how crazy that sounds, but I almost felt her appreciation-at least I sensed it.

Why do I want to go back?  For more.  This woman shared about a nursing friend doing medical missions in Mexico and how this friend was once a girl from the youth group she helped with.  Well, I said, I've done some of that too!  I'm nearly positive she was a believer.  What would I say to her different?  I prayed for your boy in there.  I prayed while they were setting out all the sterile instruments and when they peeled back the blue sterile drapes that covered his tiny body.  I wanted to stay and offer her more kindness, a pat on the back for her commitment to motherhood at it's most demanding.

I doubt I'll ever see her again. If I do, I think I will hug her and tell her I admire the way she looks at her boy and loves him so well, despite how exhausting and demanding the care.  I think this woman understood the worth of a soul.

I had a friend in college share about a book she'd read about autism.  There's one thing she said that has stayed with me over the last 14ish years.  I don't know the book, sorry, but it was something about how children (people) with developmental disabilities will be even more glorious when they are made new in heaven.  That God has a special place for these kids of His and that, when we are all made whole, they will no longer be inhibited to express all the beauty that makes them who they are.  I thought about that today.  I thought about that little guy, unhindered by his physical and mental constraints.

I'm grateful for today, for my time with this little guy and his mom.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that, Steph, it touched my heart and reminded me of what my parents sacrificed raising my brother.
Leah K.

Anonymous said...

inspiring, for me.

arkmayeekgayadday said...

that's very cool! thanks for loving that little guy, and his mom. Hugging is okay, even if your teachers or the old burned-out nurses frown at you. In fact, a wise nurse-practitioner once told me, "touch every patient." Not in a weird, fruity sort-of way (especially for a nurse who is male, like me), but in a genuine "I acknowledge you as a human" sort-of way. (For example, just listening to lung sounds, or palpating for lymphadenopathy even though you really don't need to for any reason.) Some nurses excel at this...loving people enough to touch them even when they stink... :) -Mark, APRN

Tracy Constantine said...

I just found your post and also found it very inspiring. I am new to Blogger and don't see a way to follow you. Please let me know how to follow on Friend Connect. Thank you. :)