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Persevering

Comfort Care

The hospital-style bed lurks emptily alive in the pale living room. Rust flecks along its silver rails pock my distorted reflection. Cold sheets triangulate like sagging tepees, housing the smell of long-term illness. These are the ghostly remains of hospice care.

Keep Going

 
Since my son died last year of a heroin overdose, the most common response from others has been "I can't imagine!" Losing your child is unimaginable. A parent is not supposed to outlive their child. It's contrary to the natural order. He was only twenty-five and never became the beautiful person he was meant to be.
 
When the call came that he had died ("This is Officer A from Precinct B. Sorry to tell you that your son is dead. If you want to see him before the medical examiners take his body, he's at this address..."), I faced the choice to either allow it to do me in or pick myself up and move forward.

The Unseen

Ashley, my youngest daughter, has a genetic condition so rare it is still considered "incompatible with life." Yet today, Ashley is twenty-five, and she hasn't just survived. She rides horses and she competes in jazz dance recitals with her many friends with intellectual disabilities. When she gets a new dress, she twirls while modeling it for strangers, as if she is on Next Top Model. At age four, she made the front page of our local newspaper because she was so darned cute gritting her teeth as she pulled her walker toward the finish line in her first Special Olympics race. Surely, she is a great example of persevering.

Step by Step

 
Halfway through my third-year rotations, I was sitting in a hidden enclave in the children's hospital, trying to eat my lunch and get a bit of rest. By that point in the year, the gray circles under my eyes were darker, my feet hurt more easily, my time was consumed by work and study. Is this all worth it? I often asked myself.

I Quit!


I HATE nursing! 

I was at Wernersville State Mental Hospital doing my three-month psychiatric rotation as part of my nursing program.

Deciding to leave school, I approached the phone with trepidation. I was nineteen years old, and I needed to convince my parents to let me quit.

Gut Guidance


I always knew that I wanted to be in medicine. When I was a child, I discovered a magazine story of a little boy named Dylan who received a heart transplant and asked my mother to read it to me over and over again. I loved the before, during and after progression that the narrative and glossy pictures charted: the blue-lipped child before the transplant, the over-the-shoulder shots and details of the operation, and the healthy child after. I was just as fascinated by the disease state as the wellness. Dylan, who was born with a hole in his heart, compelled me.

House of Cards


Feeling the urge to void my bladder, I insert the catheter, but nothing comes out. Odd. That’s never happened before. I drink some water and, an hour later, I insert another catheter. Again, no urine appears, just mucus on the tip of the catheter.

I need to void. My whole body is screaming to void. I’m sweating profusely as my system looks for a way to get rid of the urine. I know my BP is rising as my body copes with this stress. I also know that whatever is happening is bad. Really bad. It could damage my kidneys. So I pack up my unusual meds, change the towels wrapped around my torso to help with the sweating, and take myself off to the ER.

A Lesson from Dad

In accordance with my faith, I lit a memorial candle for my beloved father this morning; it is four years today since he died in my arms. The candle will burn for more than twenty-four hours. Not only does it remind me of the grief I still feel, but it also represents the light that was my dad--and his fervent wish that I would persevere by embracing the opportunities that life offers.