Three months ago. Saturday. 8:04 AM. Work rings. Never good. Answer phone.
“Dee’s mom called. His wife is a nurse and woke up and heard him gurgling. She called 9-1-1 and started CPR. They don’t know how long he was without oxygen. He’s at the ER now, but non-responsive.”
My heart sunk. We’d worked together 23 years. Dee’s a quality guy. I knew then I’d never see him again, not the same. At minimal, brain damage from oxygen deprivation would forever change him.
~~Something awakened Dee’s wife, Alanda, at 6:15 AM. She heard Dee gurgling from fluid filling his lungs. She flipped on the light, called 9-1-1 and started CPR.
Alanda saved Dee’s life. He’d crossed death’s doorway, but at the threshold, Alanda grabbed the tip of his little toe toenail and began pulling him back.
Five minutes later paramedics arrived. They took over CPR and used an AED.
One electrical shock to the heart. Two. Continue reading You Come From Good Stock
In college I worked one summer at a funeral home. Morbid? Maybe, but I wanted to be around the death process to understand, not fear it.
Sometimes though things, places, events — they change you, change the way you think, change the way you see and feel life. That summer changed me, one night in particular.
I had two jobs that college summer. As soon as I finished my maintenance job, I’d shower, put on my suit and rush to the 2nd job at the funeral home.
It was a visitation that night, just one body, with few visitors expected. The funeral home owner told me he and his family were leaving town for a short trip, threw me the keys and told me to lock up after everyone left that night.
No one was there, so I went into the state room and was shocked to see the tiny casket. Inside was a beautiful, eight month old baby girl. Continue reading Brahm’s Lullaby
“Breath! Breath deep!”, the nurse said. “Good! Control your breaths. Control. Breath deep. Control!”
The deep breaths continue until the pain momentarily subsides. No class, no education, no preparation can adequately prepare someone for the pain. Sure, it wouldn’t be forever, but right then, in that moment, it feels like it will never end.
Sharp, awful waves migrate from the back and end in the private area of the body. It’s so intense that all appearances, inhibitions and concern for dignity flies straight out the window. Nothing short of hope and relief from the excruciating pain can bring comfort.
The nurse, a seasoned veteran, has seen it all, yet she never consistently predicts the responses beforehand. A sonogram gives the approximate size, length and weight beforehand, but everyone’s different, so there’s no way to know up front how long or what the response may be. Continue reading Push, Push!
I’ve been thinking back about an older couple I knew when I was in college. Loved them! Great, rock solid, influential people!
He developed cancer. After a valiant fight, Hospice was called. Hospice was there round the clock during his last days at home.
They were always a very kind, loving couple, quite expressive in their love and admiration for each other. They used pet names, like Sweetie Pie and Sugar Plum, Honey Bear and Honey Bunny, along with other pet names as terms of endearment.
They would greet each other, usually in a higher pitch voice with great emphasis on their tones, sounding like they were talking to a bouncing baby or a favorite animal.
Their transparent physical, emotional and verbal affection for each other was fun to watch. I learned a lot from them.
But that was in life. Death was a little different. Continue reading Sweetie Pie
One of my sons, Todd, told me a story that still lingers several years later.
He had several jobs at once in college, but quit them all to work in a college intern. He continued to work, however, for a gentleman in his 80’s he’d met a couple of years before. The man was in great shape, but hired Todd to do heavy labor work around his farm.
As Todd got to know the man and his wife, he really liked them, a lot.
Unfortunately, she had Alzheimer’s, and was getting progressively worse in the short time he’d known them.
One day sitting in the gentleman’s pickup, he told Todd he would need him to work more to help look after the place.
Staring out the front windshield, he spoke quietly, as if thinking out loud. He said his wife’s memory lapses were becoming longer, and more frequent.
Occasionally, she would snap out of it and be back to herself instead of the confused, absent minded stranger. He was was forced to move her to a nursing home for proper care. Continue reading A Thought To Remember
My first career was in public mental health, including the part where people are committed to state psychiatric hospitals. I met a lot of super nice people during this time from law enforcement to medical personnel to social workers to the clients themselves. Truly, everyone needs a little help from a friend at times. That’s life.
Many I knew on a first name basis because they were in and out of the clinic, and most became friends on a professional basis. Even when they were struggling, you couldn’t help but like them! One was an older lady who was intelligent, charming and graceful.
She quit her meds though and shortly thereafter, her family brought her in. It was bad enough she had to go to the state hospital for her own safety.
After she got out of the hospital, she was back to her charming self.
We always got along well, but after the commitment, she decided she didn’t like me anymore. Not one, single, BIT! Continue reading Grocery Store Delimma
A man at work was diagnosed with cancer in a salivary gland. After extensive testing, the course of treatment was surgery to remove the gland followed by radiation. He was to be back at work in four to five weeks. Unfortunately, the cancer had metastasized and spread into his jaw bone. A 2 hour surgery turned into 14.
When he woke, he had a new jaw on one side constructed from grafted bone from his femur. The cancer had not spread to his brain, thank goodness. Instead of localized radiation though, he began six weeks of intensive chemotherapy. He caught pneumonia because his resistance was down and struggled daily, but after being off work over four months, returned, cancer free. Continue reading I Very, Very Happy
When my oldest son was 4 years old, we were on our way to “Life Chain”, a pro-life activity where everyone stood silently holding signs along the business route in support of life. There were hundreds of people participating and the silence was, in and of itself, peaceful.
What I remember the most, however, was the drive. Blake sat next to me and asked where we were going. Thinking a short answer would suffice, I told him it was to support babies who hadn’t been born. As kids will do, he filled his logic train by peppering me with, “Why?” over and over.
Honestly, I didn’t want him to know about abortion, but after answering a couple of questions vaguely, I let the word “abortion” slip out. He zeroed in like a heat seeking missile. Continue reading The Baby Dies
I used to work in the mental health field as a Licensed Professional Counselor. With that said, I’ve talked to a lot of people who suffer from depression and, in fact, have been depressed before myself. To say it is difficult is a vast understatement. Statistics show that 10.4% of all physician office visits have depression indicated on the medical record. With that in mind, here’s my best shot to describe depression –
Depression is having cold feet in the summer, and sweating under your coat in winter.
You used to raise your hands to praise to God, but now, getting them high enough to scratch your ear is hard.
You smile, shine your package, wrap your heart under brightly colored wrapping paper, but the contents are broken, crushed, spilling out.
You don’t know why. Not really.
Hope despairs. Continue reading The Talons of Depression