Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NANN Brighter Tomorrow's Story

Ok, so I never win anything- EVER!! But recently, a professional organization that I'm a member of- NANN (National Association of Neonatal Nurses) had a story contest. It was a "Brighter Tomorrow's" story contest. They wanted stories about things that NICU nurses had experienced that were relevant to the NICU nursing practice, but were also inspiring. I could think of a million little things I have experienced in the years I've been a nurse, but one story stood out- my Isabella. If you know me, you know Isabella. She is 5 years old, and I met her in May 2006, when she was admitted into the NICU. She fought for her life for 6 months and now she is nothing but a spunky, bossy, prissy, beautful and precious precious little girl. So, I was allowed 500 words to tell of a 5 year long friendship with Isabella and her mom, Monty. I entered the contest, and can you believe it?? I actually won! I get to go to the NANN conference now in Orlando, Florida in September, which is great because I need the contact hours for my certification!! I thought I'd share the story, and the pictures I sent, on the blog. Enjoy!!

"Isabella was born at 31 weeks gestation in May of 2006. She was transferred the a NICU near her hometown for observation. After 2 days of life, her weight went from 4 lbs 2 oz to 2 lbs 0 oz. Her blood pressure was dangerously high. She was showing signs of renal failure, and the beginnings of multi-organ failure. The decision was made to transfer Isabella to LeBonheur Children‘s Hospital for higher level care. I knew when I received report from the transferring facility that this baby girl was very critical.

The Pedi-Flite team brought her in; this tiny, pale little girl with flailing arms and a feisty spirit. She was a fighter, screaming and swinging her arms as I admitted her and performed the necessary rapid assessment. Her blood pressure remained critical through the night, and into the next few days and weeks. Over the next 6 months during her stay in my NICU, she developed a pericardial effusion, requiring an emergent procedure to pull the fluid off her heart so she could survive. She also developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis requiring surgery, severe reflux requiring a G-Tube, and bleeding in her brain which developed into “PVL,” or periventricular leukomalacia. She required several central lines, endless transfusions, labs, ECHO’s, and other tests. Yet, she never lost her determination to live. I became one of her primary nurses, and I began to love her as if she was my own child. She became an inspiration to me.

Eventually, she did lose a kidney, but she never lost her fighting spirit. Although she would go through periods of deterioration, scaring the nurses, she would always bounce back, determined to live life to the fullest. Just before Thanksgiving 2006, Isabella went home. She took with her monitors, pumps, and a central line that her mother learned to care for. I remember coming in on my day off for this long awaited day. I watched, tears in my eyes, as Isabella was dressed in her little pink onesie, wrapped in the blanket I’d knitted for her, and placed in her car seat. Our sweet Isabella went home.

I kept in touch with her mother, visiting them several times a year. I watched her grow into a toddler, walking, talking, running, all the while feisty and strong-spirited, yet so sweet and fragile. When I got engaged in 2009, the only little girl I wanted to be my flower girl was Isabella.

In November of 2009, Isabella put on her white “princess” dress, little ballet shoes, and she was my flower girl. It was a sweet celebration, and tears of joy were again shed by staff from the NICU as they were reunited with this little girl that had made such a large impact on their lives. She danced around, twirling her dress, singing a song, and smiling. This little girl, born so small and delicate but with such a determined spirit, overcame the impossible, and continues to inspire strength in everyone she meets. "

Me and Isabella in the NICU, sometime in the fall of 2006

On our wedding day

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fruits of the Garden

 Although we did not plant a "fruit" garden, nor even a vegetable garden this year, we still are beginning to see our hard work pay off- in all different colors!! We had every intention of doing vegetables this year, but last year's trouble with the weather- droughts, heat, and seeing baby squash and cucumber lying in the most pitiful positions, dry and malnourished and, well, crispy (not yet cooked)...caused us to..well.. let's just say "we didn't go there." It was too emotional for this NICU nurse to see her baby vegetables suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, and "IUGR" (for the plants- all you medical folks know this as intrauterine growth restriction- these plants, had they been in a uterus, would have most definately suffered this as well- ) or for the plants' sake- IGGR "Intragarden growth restriction" secondary to hyperthermia. That's that.

 But, I am pleased to say that my three sweet hydrangea bushes are flourishing quite nicely. They were sick last year- some sort of "something" that I couldn't figure out, but they hardly had leaves, and certainly did not have enough "Umph" for flowers! I fertilized last year, but nothing worked...last year... but THIS year- leaves came...big leaves, then more leaves, then small buds, then bigger buds, then different color buds. I know that the color of the hydrangea is influenced by the acidity of the soil- the more acidic, the more tinted blue. I remember my great-grandmother and my Gran talking about putting nails in the soil to get blue hydrangea's... granted, I was 3 years old at the time, but in my 3 year-old mind, putting nails in the soil seemed like a task fitting for me, and I can vividly remember the excitement of finding a nail near my Grandadden's truck and sticking it in the ground...what I didn't know was there weren't any hydrangea's nearby where I was "planting nails."  Oh well. I'm sure mom and her lawnmower appreciated the especially "larger" nails I planted. (sorry momo)

So, all that to say- we have three very large-and-in-charge hydrangea bushes.. they share the same soil and yet God, with all His artistic phenomenon, decided to make one blue, one pink, and one a very light pink-almost white. Amazing! My face lights up everytime I come up the driveway and see the colors- what a reminder of how creative God can be with us, as well- in the same circumstances, but how different we all are- and since we are His creation, we are all beautiful in our differences.

My lilies are well on their way, pregnant with blooms..some already bursting with life and vivid color- gorgeous!! My hostas, also large-and-in-charge, have sprouted their tall, ladylike stems and are just about to pop with delicate purple blooms- love those!! The cannas and gladiolas are growing tall, no blooms yet though. And the hibiscus my MIL (mother-in-law) gave me last year has gone from 1 stalk (as big around as my wrist) to 8 stalks! I am currently working on finding nice homes for some of these :) I hear they have a tendency to take over, and I have enough "large-and-in-charge" in the front- will find a new home for these in the side yard and hopefully with some neighbors (mom- bringing you some, too- soon!!)

perfect blue

and pink

and a little white and blue mix

and purple

just lovely

Vincas- doing well in their sunshine

there's a small purple flower inside that bud, just waiting to burst out1

these lilies in the backyard never cease to amaze me- tall and strong and vivid red! reminds me of an independent woman- or like my mom, strong, able to stand on her own, resilient to life's harsh seasons

gorgeous and perfect

I love my "Noah Bells"- they are distinctive from all other bells in their melodic and echoing tones. Each one is handmade- no machines- and each ones rings differently. Shepherds love these bells as they enable them to easily hear and find their flocks from many miles away. And Old Indian belief is that bells scare away devils and evil spirit- what about evil tornadoes??

Bouquets, of course, are a must with flowers like these!

Again, the colors! Hard to believe each of those different flowers and color schemes came from hydrangea bushes within 6 feet of each other. Wow, God, Wow!

Monday, May 23, 2011

What kind of flowers do showers bring?

It's been a while since the last post- and sure we've been busy...but I've also been waiting on something exciting to blog about. Alas, there is nothing. But oh well- so what have we been up to? First things first, I finished my race in Nashville April 30th- I was nervous and anxious because I felt like I had not prepared for it like I should, hadn't run long enough, hadn't had enough "long" runs, etc etc....Yet, I had so much support and love from my family. Ain't is amazing how that will get your through? Just love family- even though sometimes they drive you nuts! Unfortunately, my uncle wasn't able to run with me after throwing out his back and messing up his knee...we tried to talk Trey into running it with me. After all, he can pick up and run 6 miles or 8 miles- he's done it before, right?? haha But all I could get out of him was a promise to run the St. Jude Half with me in December. You better believe I'm holding him to it! So Trey and mom and me set out from my aunt's house in Spring Hill at 4:30 am and drove to Nashville. God bless Trey and my mom because I was a nervous wreck, combined with traffic on the interstate and the threat of missing the last shuttle..but they got me there. They got me to the shuttles, and then it was just standing in line waiting. Although the day was going to get warmer, it was about 48 degrees and there I was in shorts and my sweatshirt, which I had to part with before getting on the shuttle. Shaking and convulsing like a freak because I was nervous and cold, I waited there with Trey for the shuttle.. with the masses.
Thats me, just after parting with my sweatshirt. People around me verbally noticing my goosebumps- nice.

The masses.

 I sat next to the nicest man on the shuttle- he had been over a hospital in Nashville and had recently moved to New Orleans and was over a hospital there. So we talked about hospital stuff, Magnet status (which LeBonheur is trying to achieve) and whatnot... it helped the nerves for sure. I hope I didn't talk his head off!! But I just love watching the people who are preparing for these races. I like to run, but would hardly call myself a "runner"- I'm not fast, I just try to finish...I barely ran the entire way- had to walk some. But some of these folks are crazy!! Sprints to warm up, eating all kinds of nutty cardboards and washing them down with electrolyte gels, coating their thighs and armpits with vaseline and body-glide...weird. I just stood there, looking for my corral (which was definately in the back with the slow folks and the "older" folks... but we all looked the same. Some folks around me were running their first, so I talked to them about the first time I did the race. And thankfully there was some guy who (I'm assuming) used comic relief as a coping mechanism for anxiety and he was truly nuts- yelling out cheers and jokes and dancing like an idiot...older gentleman about 45-50, big belly and scratchy beard. It made the time go by faster. And the race started, and there I went- no choice but to somehow get myself to the end of the 13.1 miles so I could say I did the thing and get a ride home. :) But then I started enjoying it... lots of funny ladies in matching tu-tu's and cowboy hats and beads and painted shirts. Lots of folks standing on the sidewalks, cheering for their friends, funny jokes on their signs (some too vulgar to put on the blog...but you get the idea) And I finished- in one piece, sprinting at the finish line, no knee problems, only one small blister on my right was fabulous!
On the phone, trying to call Trey and mom to see where they were...didn't see them right in front of me!

Oh, haha, there yall are!

No mom, you stay there. I'm going to go get some food and water and I will find you!

Totally about to devour some grub!

Yay mom- who has been up since 4am! Waiting on me to finish. (The race started at 7. My corral started at 8. I finished about 10:30)

The love of my life and my pack-mule

After this picture, I'm going to sit down and eat because I'm still starving!

Complimentary beers for all runners- what should I hydrate with??

The pack mule- gotta love him!

So, finished the race and had a fabulous visit with mom. Came back to Memphis and found that the city had become a disaster area in some places..

Water, Water everywhere...But not a drop to drink..

One of the parks on Mud Island

Beale Street, just east of Riverside Drive


No words

 Trey and I began working at the Shelter at Hope Presbyterian the day we got home. Thousands of people displaced, showing up to the shelters with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, and whatever they could throw into garbage sacks and into the trunks of their cars.

Most of the families at the shelter were Hispanic, speaking very little (if any) English. They had children of all ages, some as young as 2 weeks old. Sleeping on cots and sleeping bags, showering in outdoor trailer showers, doing laundry in portable washers and dryers, sleeping in a gym with 175 other people of all ages. But who really slept? Between the snoring, the crying, the cramped conditions, and the anxiety of "what now?"

They tried to maintain some sense of "normal" during the day- the men went to work, the women helped clean the church, the kids either went to school or played..

But the waters never went down. In fact, they river was still weeks away from even cresting. These people lived at Hope, and at other shelters, while watching as the waters crept closer and closer, rose higer and higher. It made national news- even Diane Sawyer made a trip to Hope to visit with the people.

The river finally crested last week- and the waters are beginning to go down. But now what- homes damaged, some beyond repair and beyond their worth, snakes, rotten stench, mold, everything lost. Everything gone. And the areas hit the hardest were the poorest. People with strikes already against them- and now this...

But the Memphis and Shelby County communities did an amazing job of pulling together. Volunteers at shelters, donations so plentiful that the shelters had to acutally say "We don't need anymore..." Although the disaster isn't over, and the shelters expect to be full for at least another month, this had made me proud to be from thsi city- which isn't always the case. All the negative light that is shed on Memphis- I hope this has changed some of that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What did He feel in the Garden?

Maundy Thursday. That night. In the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus. Scared, literally, to death.

Maundy. Derived from the Latin "Mandatum" which means commandment. His last commandment to us :

" Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34

How did He love them, in the Garden? His brothers, His friends, His disciples, the ones He loved. He was hours away from betrayal, hatred, being given over to torture and anguish and death, by a friend, a disciple, someone He loved. As a human being (seeing as me and Jesus had this in common) I cannot imagine sitting in a dark garden, a grove full of olive trees, my best friends by my side..cold...scared...trembling..surrounded by people but never feeling more alone...the moonlight overhead, the cool ground beneath His feet soon to be broken and pierced... there He was...knowing full well what had to be done for a world in the present, and a world in the future...begging His Father to take it away...

" Then Jesus brought them to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and He said 'Sit here while I go ahead to pray.' He took Peter and Zebedee's two sons, James and John, and He began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. He told them, 'My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.' He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground praying, 'My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me...Yet I want your will, not mine.'

Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, 'Couldn't you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!!'

Again He left them and prayed, 'My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done.' He returned to them again and found them sleeping, for they just couldn't keep their eyes open. So He went back to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then He came to the disciples and said, 'Still sleeping?? Still resting?? Look, the time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let's be going. See, my betrayer is here!' "  Matthew 26: 36-46

What was going through His mind? Being an all-knowing God in the form of man, He knew...the trials. the beatings,.the shouts of His own people to "Crucify Him!"...the same voices that, just a few days before had praised Him and sung songs of "Hosannah, Hallelujah!" Men and women, boys and girls, old and young, one minute praising Him, the next minute, cursing Him and sending Him to His death... He knew what was coming...his body, skin torn from muscles and bone, bones broken, piercing into his organs, his lungs filled with fluid, can't catch His breath, eyes swollen shut- unable to see, but knowing the hearts of those before Him, thirsty, aching, burning, broken...

But in that moment. In the Garden...much like another Garden, thousands of years before, where He had strolled as God in the cool of the evening breeze, asking "Adam? Eve? Where are you?" One commandment: Do not eat of that tree. They did. They were doomed. In the garden, they were doomed to death. And although they touched evil in the midst of beauty, what did God do for them, just before He sent them out to work the land, suffer childbirth, and struggle in life? He provided for them. He forgave them. He loved them in their brokenness, in their rebellion... Gen. 3:21 " The Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."

In Gethsemane, His dearest and closest friends could not even stay awake to be there for Him as He anticipated the horror that was to take place in just a few hours. How would I feel? Would I be upset? Would my feelings be hurt? Feeling alone, knowing I would be betrayed by my friends? He couldn't even stand..He was face down, begging, pleaing, crying out for just one small chance that it might not have to happen, but knowing it would...God in human form, tears, sweating, probably in so much despair and devastation that it took His breath away... Have I been there? On my face, crying out, begging for help, in so much pain that I couldn't catch my breath?

 Completely alone...there He was, in His creation, with His beloved creation, those He made in His image...completely alone. And for what? For me? For you? For His disciples? For Peter, who would deny He even knew Him, even though He had pledged His loyalty and faithfulness just a few days before?

"Love one I loved you."

How is that? I deny Him, and He shows Himself to me. I disobey and disappoint Him, and He provides for my every need. I forget Him, and He cleans up my messes and makes good of all my stupid mistakes. I have done this for years, I will do this until the day I die. I apologize and praise Him, and in the same breath I curse Him...and He wraps me up in His arms, wipes away my tears when I'm alone and crying out, and tells me it's gonna be ok...who is this God that is just like a neverending foutnain of love and peace and forgiveness? How does He do it? Why should He? What have I ever done for Him??

I love Him. I acknowledge that I'm broken. I tell Him I need Him, and I love Him.

At church tonight, they ended the service with a popular song, and I had never thought of the lyrics in this way, but I will never hear this song and think of it the the lyrics. Imagine Christ in the Garden. His anticipation, his nerves, his knowing what was about to unfold...and the reason..

"I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord.
And I've been waiting for this moment all my life, Oh Lord.
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord.

Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand.
I've seen your face before my friend, but I don't know if you know who I am.
Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes.
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you've been.
It's all been a pack of lies.

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord.
Well I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord.
And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord.
Well I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord.

I remember, I remember, don't worry. How could I ever forget?
It was the first time, the last time we ever met.
But I know the reason why you kept your silence up, oh no you don't fool me
Well the hurt doesn't show, but the pain still grows.
It's not stranger to you and me.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord.
Well I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord.
I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord.
Well I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord.
I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord.
And I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord.
I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord.
Well I've been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord.

I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord.
Well I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord."

Phil Collins "In the air tonight"
Song is on playlist on the right side of the blog..listen while you read..and think..