Night In Room 4: Trauma Unit

“So dear, how many seizures would you say he’s had tonight…” the nurse asked me while I choked back sobs.

“Uh… I’m not sure, maybe 20?” Greg held his breath and yet again cringed and turned ashen as another wave hit him, and he let out a big exhale as it passed.

“Okay, height, weight, any known allergies?” She asked again.

I dappled through the litany of questions, while Greg shook and we headed into the ER entrance right away and he was lifted to a stretcher.

TWO HOURS EARLIER THAT EVENING…

“Hey honey, how was work today?” I asked, stirring a pot of noodles waiting for Greg’s arrival.

He dropped his lunch box to the floor and headed upstairs.

“Pretty good, I’m just going to head upstairs and shower before dinner.”

He came downstairs shortly and wolfed down a bowl of tortollini and salad. Once cleaned up from dinner and loading the dishwasher, we sat on the couch to watch some Seinfeld reruns. Greg took some more cold medicine, he’d been fighting symptoms all week, but was getting better…or so I thought.

As we laughed between jokes on TV, I noticed Greg was gripping the couch in an odd fashion. He closed his eyes and braced himself, once then again and again. It was as if he was having contractions, that was the best way to put it. One would come and then leave, then they got closer together. I figured his blood sugar was low, he had been sick after all. So I grabbed him some orange juice. He downed a glass in a single gulp and seemed to be okay for a few moments. Then they came on him again, this time worse than before. His body twitched and contorted.

“Let’s go Greg, NOW! We are going the On-Call clinic.” Why I didn’t just bring him to the ER, I have no idea. I willed my brain to work.

“Why? I’m fine.” He uttered.

“No you definitely aren’t.” I raced for my keys and flip-flops and headed out the door.

When we reached the On-Call clinic they insisted we go the ER. On our way over, Greg began to twitch and contort voraciously around in his seat. I said his name, shouted it out and he didn’t respond, as if he didn’t hear me. Then he uttered a huge exhaling breath and slunk back in his seat exhausted. I lost my focus and tried to regain it while racing to the ER.

BACK TO PRESENT IN THE ER

They led us back to a room, Greg being raced over on the stretcher. We entered the room and a short but lean looking doctor entered, no lab coat, but rather a t shirt tucked in and cowboy boats. He had curly long hair and ice blue eyes with a weathered face.

“Hey, where is this guy’s EKG, where’s his chart?” They hooked Greg up to monitors and determined it was his heart that was starting and then stopping, over and over… 30, 50, 100, 120, 50, 40, 15, 0… flat lining…

A nurse entered the room…

“We are going to move you to room 4.” They moved the stretcher out quickly and I followed suit. When we got to the door I noticed the large glass windows that pointed toward the monitors in the hall with a team of doctors gathered. The door read, “Room 4, Trauma Unit”. I prayed Greg was too incapacitated to read it.

The nurses rushed around taking blood and reading the machines.

One nurse moved toward the bed with a device, paddles and a box. I knew what this was.

“Honey, this is just going to go on your chest, just as a precaution…”

I knew it wasn’t, it was very possible they’d need to restart his heart.

Soon after more vitals were taken, a cardiologist about seven feet tall entered the room.

“Hello, folks, I’m the cardiologist on the floor tonight. Now I see some wild stuff is going on with your heart and I’d like to put in a temporary pacemaker.”

A pacemaker I thought? That’s for old people who really need it… this can’t be good.

“We also gave you antibiotics for lyme disease because it’s very rare that this would happen in someone so young and healthy.”

“Potential risks of the pacemaker are a collapsed lung. But the risk is low.”

Greg nodded, we prayed and he was rushed away without any hesitation.

The dam behind my eyes broke and I wondered what exactly would happen if and when he returned from the OR.

TO BE CONTINUED.

photo credit: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=0ETW5W0P&id=0B6BDB52A503062BC2A78A4720903DA28AAA8CC7&q=flat+lined&simid=608024416818237155&selectedindex=6&mode=overlay&first=1&thid=OIP.0ETW5W0PZ_p8caxLnTkLJwEsD6.

THAT TIME I THOUGHT I HAD FORGIVEN

It’s something that I never thought I had a problem with, until I went to lunch with a longtime friend.

“But you don’t understand what they did. They made me feel so betrayed at a time I was so vulnerable…”

I went through my laundry list of excuses, reasons why I was justified in feeling hurt. I didn’t think it was me holding a grudge or withholding forgiveness, it was just my feelings. But no, my hurts had piled up from years of being so annoyed that this event had happened that I had withheld forgiveness by default. Sound familiar? And since I didn’t see these people hardly ever, I had buried the hurt and it only came back in rare occurrences, giving me the illusion that I was “fine” or “over it”. But I realized that when someone pokes at an issue, and it fires you up, it usually means that you’re still not over it. Just because someone hasn’t “poked” at it in a while, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I had tried to forgive, to forget certain events that happened around when my mother left and the things people had said that were supposed to be out of concern but came across as crude or ignorant. I had thought that I had. I had prayed, written, been pensive, as I tried to make peace. But somehow, when a person or event was brought up, I’d be fired up again. Why? Why couldn’t I get past it?

It dawned on me, about ten years after the events had unfolded, why I couldn’t move forward. You see, when I looked at the events from my paradigm, it was all, of course, through my eyes, my lens. I saw things that hurt me, and rightfully so. However, I didn’t consider the other people, those that hurt me, as people. I realized I only saw them through my hurt, and somehow, dehumanized them. When they were dehumanized, it was easy to stay bitter, to say, “you hurt me and should pay”. But when I saw their own fragility, humanity and struggles, I felt something different. Genuine empathy. And once I reached this milestone, the feelings of bitterness slowly left me.

We are all only human, here today and gone tomorrow. We have limited time, capacity, and abilities. To lose someone from an event that maybe wasn’t positive, but also not irreparable, is such a shame. Because together we really are better; better ideas, passions, and problem solving.

What this doesn’t mean, is this: you’re not an open door for neglect and abuse. But what it does mean is good-willed and intentioned people make mistakes. They sometimes jude too quickly and react harshly. And to shut someone out, even if it’s just in your heart or mind, forever, just isn’t fair.

So today, maybe start looking past your pain, and looking at your enemy as a human. It’s extraordinary how it may just change your mind and heart forever. It did mine.

#forgiveness #ilovepeople.

MY MISSED MISCARRIAGE: PART TWO

I sat in the old white whicker chair in the waiting room. As I looked around anxiously, I saw women of all stages of life. I saw a lady coming in with her newborn in a carrier, a young teenager, and an older lady waiting patiently across from me. I brought a book with me but in my nervousness I just couldn’t bring myself to read it.
 
Eventually the ultrasound tech opened the door, “Christina!”
 
I got up and walked toward the entrance…
 
“How are you today?”
 
“Good as I can be, I guess.”
 
She led me to the ultrasound room and had me get into the gown from the waist down. I watched her look at the screen so stoically.
 
“Anything change?” I asked, hoping for the best but ready for the worst.
 
“No, sorry. It looks like the sac has filled with debris and it’s shrinking in size.”
 
I was still processing, still upset, but somehow knowing for sure, that the twins were gone, gave me peace. I could let go.
 
I walked into the doctor’s office, the one who had told me about the miscarriage last week. She asked what I wanted to do. I couldn’t quite deal with the idea of delivering what was left of my kids at home, whenever that would happen. So I chose the D&C option.
 
“I know it’s the week of Christmas… can you guys still schedule the surgery before Christmas Day?” I asked but figuring it would be post-poned.
 
“Let me check with the surgeon. I think we can do that for you. I want to do whatever will make this easier for you,” she said, with such compassion.
 
“Dr. Smith, can we do a D&C this week before Christmas? Christina sadly, miscarried so we are trying to help her by getting her in quicker.”
 
“Sure, honey…I’m so sorry…” And I think she truly meant it.
 
I completed the forms for the surgery and went to get more bloodwork done. I called my mom, asking her if she could come with me for the surgery to drive me back home.
 
That night, I went home and couldn’t eat anything for the coming surgery. I called my co-workers and requested the week off to heal. When I went in for surgery the next day, I was greeted with more bloodwork. Since I hadn’t eaten for the surgery, they couldn’t locate my veins properly, having to stick needles in both arms and my hand. Normally that doesn’t bother me but I cringed all the way through it. They then led me down a narrow hallway where I was given a room and a gown to wear. I was given an IV to give me fluids since I had nothing in my system.
 
While I waited for the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, I watched some Christmas movies on ABC Family. It seemed to take my mind off of things.
 
The anesthesiologist came in and explained the drugs they’d use during the procedure. I mostly just nodded my head, not really knowing why it mattered, just that I wouldn’t be in pain.
 
Now it was starting to get more serious and I felt my nerves start to rise. They carted me to the surgery room which was felt like ice. Warm blankets were placed on me and my head was set in a set of foam blocks. The lights from the surgical spot-light were blinding. The anesthesiologist did his best to say a joke…I appreciated the effort. In a few moments, I drifted to sleep.
 
*********************
When I woke up I felt no pain, just a groggy feeling and a need to urinate. Nurses helped me when I came to, and I couldn’t believe how much blood was on my bed. It just reminded me of what happened, what I’d lost. I looked over and mom was sitting there with an iced tea reading an Angel magazine, as always.
 
“How’s it going kiddo? Feeling okay?”
 
“I want some ice cream.” I told her and the nurse.
 
They went and found me some. Once I was done, I was helped up and into my clothes. I sat with some more IV fluids for a while and waited to feel a little more normal. My nurses were angels and comforted me as I recovered. I was wheeled out of the hospital and went to the Olive Garden with mom, and ate more than I should. As moments passed, I felt less and less upset and more at peace. After I ate, mom drove me home and helped me to the couch and prepped it with blankets where I stayed waiting for Greg to come home from work.
 
After the bleeding subsided, which went on and off for a while, I went to the hospital for weekly bloodwork, which is hard for someone who’s trying to move past their loss. But eventually it was over… eventually after three long months, my body had healed.
 
**********************
 
I say all this not for myself, but for so many women who suffer or cry in silence as new life leaves them. It’s the taboo subject… don’t tell anyone you’re expecting until post 1st trimester, you could miscarry! As if you should have to live in that pain by yourself. Many women have miscarriages and, somehow, have the strength to try again, to believe it can work again. This story is for all of you, the ones that persevered and suffered alone. Your grief and story is real.

WHY I HATE CRITICISM

It’s a fact of life; people are going to either give you positive or negative feedback. They might do it in a helpful way or in a more destructive fashion. It could be your boss, co-workers, friends or family. But the truth is, receiving criticism isn’t going to go away.

For me personally, I think I’ve always had a really hard time with criticism, both constructive and destructive. But when someone gives me the impression that I didn’t do a good job, or my idea was substandard, I almost feel defensive. How dare you tell me I didn’t work hard enough? How do you know what I put into this? It’s like I need to defend myself, my work. They could have told me I did something 99% correctly, but for some reason I don’t see that, my focus goes to the 1% that they are unpleased with. Know the feeling? 

I think this starts in childhood. We had a parent or adult figure in our lives that told us what we were doing wasn’t good enough…our grades weren’t perfect, our hair looked funny, or we didn’t do as well in sports as our peers. Then when we grow up, this voice doesn’t stop in our heads… it begs us to listen saying, “They weren’t too pleased…you screwed up again…”. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. Far too many of us live with that critical spirit and tone in our lives.

Nine times out of ten, our bosses, and family, and friends aren’t being critical of us. They aren’t trying to be destructive, they are trying to help. But when we hear them through the lens of our own hurt, our own past, we miss the message they are sending. Thus, it makes us defensive and appear wounded and snippy. I don’t think that is our intention. Today, and every day, let’s take some steps toward recovering our minds, silencing the negative voices, and hearing what our critics are really saying.

My Life from an Adidas Bag: A Journey to Stability

To most people an Adidas bag isn’t something too special. It’s what you put your sweaty gym clothes in or what you carry around when traveling. This bag did all of that with me, but it’s more than that. This bag has a story.

When my mother’s mental illness began to “peak” around high school, when it was undeniable and in “full force”, staying at home became an impossibility. You didn’t know from minute to minute if she would be nice mom or angry abusive mom; it was probably akin to living with an alcoholic. My sister and I were at the mercy of her manic episodes. Knowing this, I pursued my driver’s license right away and passed on my first try; I knew what would happen if I didn’t, so I was highly motivated. I would take this adidas bag with me and pack my belongings and overnight items in it as well as my backpack for school. Some nights, I’d stay with my friend Katie, sometimes my friend Sara. Other nights, I’d stay with Jim & Sally and their therapy dogs. I became somewhat of a gypsy, a product of what I’d grown up trying to escape.

The experience that lasted from about age 17 to 21, created an adulthood and an independence in me at a very tender age. From age 12 and on, I always had at least one job. When I started to live with extended family and friends, I usually had at least two jobs. I’d go to school during the day, and then work as a waitress from about 4 to 12 PM, and on weekends, I worked filing at a dental office. I learned the value of work, and work took my mind off what I knew I couldn’t change. I grew up in those years, more than I wish I had. I sometimes regret not being able to go to sporting events with friends, and to not have my mind wonder. I regret not being able to know what it means to “just have fun”, “just be a teenager”. It was hard to relate to my peers, hard to become friends because I felt the need to be so serious, so stoic, so invincible. Truth is, I wasn’t. The truth is, there were days I had such a hard time and I wanted to give up. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other, day by day. Eventually, years later…life started to become a little easier, my past a little less painful, and my future, a little more bright.

When I look back on this bag, it shows me the importance of stability in someone’s life. It’s hard to save money, to do well in school, to stay on the straight and narrow, and to have meaningful relationships, when you feel you have so much to fear, so much to constantly worry about. I was in a constant state of “looking over my shoulder”, listening to the garage door for my mother to come home, and just dreading what would happen next. What a gift it is now, to sit on my couch, to just “be” and to not worry about walking on eggshells. To have the freedom, the luxury, to let your guard down, to simply relax in your cup of coffee, or sit down and read with a good book, it’s such a gift to me now – I’ll never take it for granted. Eating family meals, going to get-togethers, I remember a time when that was so hard for me to do, but now, I fully savor it. But I never forget those days of struggle, they’re a part of me. Now, I have such an appreciation for those constants in life, the stability of friends and family. Slowly, those earlier years, are fading and being replaced with newer and kinder memories, all a part of a greater tapestry that is my life.

My Worth & Value: It’s Not in What I Do

I grew up in a home that stressed the importance of achieving. Good grades were hung on the refrigerator, special meals baked for getting into an academic club, and rewards for being the “best” reader in sixth grade. It was as if my mom almost loved my sister and I more if we brought home something that showed achievement. I remember one day she even told me to not bother coming home if I hadn’t gotten an “A” in a particular class. It was this tough, militant-minded way of going about reaching achievement that left me burnt out in college and confused as an adult.

I did very well in high school. I was the nerd, the track runner and a strong introvert. Most people in my classes would consider me fairly bright but also quite quiet. Once I got to college, I realized how much I was being challenged by particular classes; I chose to take the math and the science courses that would challenge me. You see, my mom always wanted me to take those courses because she said that writing and what I liked to do, didn’t have much value in the real world. So I set off on a course to do something I didn’t love as much, in an effort to make her proud or earn her love. I wanted to feel as though I’d accomplished something worthwhile, as if my identity could ever be found in what I did.

It took me changing my major, changing schools, to understand, I’ll always be me, a writer and a thinker, and that I also have a mind for business and organization. You see, you can’t really change the gifts and talents you have. Sometimes the world appears to put one gift or talent above another, but that doesn’t make yours any less important. We don’t know the impact we have on others, what we might bring to another person. To deny the world what we uniquely have from our Creator, is both wasteful and selfish.

After college, I tried to find meaning and acceptance in my careers choices; being a go-to person, someone others could count on, and knowing all the answers. And honestly, sometimes I was. But whenever I was criticized, it felt like my very core was being “attacked”, my sense of accomplishment dwindling. That’s when I realized, whether I’m super liked in my position, whether or not my title is impressive, I’m still Christina Bennett. I’m enough because I’m me, not because of my gifts or talents, but solely because of who God made me from day one. There isn’t another person that is just like me or you, or can ever touch the world in the same way. Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with goal-setting and trying to achieve. I would encourage all to set clear goals to live an intentional and impactful life. However, when your sense of worth and value is wrapped up in your title or station in life, it becomes a problem. Because what happens when one day, you don’t have that “thing” anymore to say you are… what happens to you then?

So slowly, I’m unlearning the desire to keep up with the Jones’ accomplishments, unlearning the need to be first or to have all the answers. I’m bringing what I have to the table and honestly, it’s enough. I’m letting go of the voice of my mother saying I needed and “A” on a paper to come home. Unlearning the need to accomplish things like my friends or family do. Because we aren’t the same people, with the same gifts so why would we ever think that we should achieve the same things? It’s a lie we believe, one we tell ourselves that we should be like someone else. But just like a fox can dig and bury things in the ground, they don’t expect to fly like the eagle can. And likewise, the eagle doesn’t question why it can’t dig like the fox. He accepts he was meant to soar in the sky.

So whatever you are, the eagle, the fox, be “you”. Do what you’re meant to accomplish. It’s your life to live, your impact to make, so make it exceptionally you.

 

 

Photo Credit: http://iysigirl.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/07/bigstockphoto_accomplishment_-_road_sign_273784811.jpg

To the Daughters who lost a Mother

It took about nine years before this holiday didn’t make me fight back tears or run to the bathroom to vomit. I remember seeing all the girls at lunch dressed up in matching mother-daughter dresses or on their way to a special outing. Honestly, it disgusted me–I have to admit. Why did they get to experience all that love and admiration from their moms and I didn’t? I was left with a gaping hole in my heart, one that I thought would never quite be whole again. When would that not hurt?

Maybe I could accept it more if I had lost my mother in the traditional sense–she had passed away. But no, mine had simply been carried away, far away, by the demons of her past- from her mental illness. She tried to fight them off, she tried to love and be the best in public, to appear “normal” but she never really could pull that off. Until one day I’d started in high school, woke up, and she was gone. No address, no way of knowing. She’d threatened to leave, to not come back. We assumed it was just another manic illness episode. But no, it really happened. And after that day, I never saw her again.

The next day I went to school, holding back the sobs that so desperately wanted to come out, and played my clarinet in first period next to my best friends, Katie and Sara. They could tell something was wrong, but didn’t push. I somehow made it through that day and the next 3,285 days following, to today. I went home a few months later, pulled her old comforter over my head, smelling the perfume that still lingered from her, and softly cried and mourned her loss. I choked down my tears and I asked myself, why she didn’t want my sister and me? Why she couldn’t love us? Why she couldn’t have stayed and gotten better? But she just couldn’t. She loved us and did what she could to the extent that she was able, and I simply couldn’t ask for anything more.

See a lot of us, who have lost their mother to illness in some way or in a traditional loss, we always seem to feel a little out of place in certain circumstances. And our friend’s mothers try to help, try to welcome us into their fold, but it’ll never quite be the same. Even a mother penguin only recognizes the sound of her own chick. She’ll reject the others because she knows the sound of her chirp. Your mother, she will never love another quite like she loves you. The way she gingerly folds your hair behind your ear, or brags to others about your accomplishments, no matter the size, or the way she tells people about the day you were born. That is so unique, so one of a kind, and she’ll only feel that way about you. My friend’s mothers tried their best to welcome me in, and for their kindness and love, I’m forever grateful. They tried to help make me feel like one of their own, but that love is custom made and it simply can’t be the same. So if you are out there, and your mother is around and can love you with that capacity, don’t fight it, be annoyed–it’s a gift that can easily be gone tomorrow.

I thought about hope, and what I can offer, what got me to a point of acceptance and health. I know a lot of people say, you’re stronger for the tragedies in life and I’d disagree. I didn’t feel stronger over time. But with distance and perspective, I became whole. 

My mother was a fantastic cook. She could make a dinner party come alive. Her hugs were one of a kind just like her meatballs. Her intelligence was superior and her paintings, beautiful. I have learned to somehow love the parts of mom that were good, and to focus on her memory in that way.

I don’t know where she went that day, nine years ago. I don’t know where she lives, what she’s doing. There never was a sense of closure. People asked me if I knew, and that just made me angrier.

But try to not remember the illness, the rejection and pain. And over time, my healing came. Somehow in the midst of that pain, God surprises you with a collection of people that add so much color and vibrancy to your life–that somehow you become more of youimagesrself again, more whole. They can never replace, but with each smile, relationship, and caring moment, they bring a little bit of healing and restoration back into your life. You begin to see yourself as a ship in the ocean that slowly moves away from a wreck and closer to a divine sunset.

 

So to the daughters who have experienced loss, I understand–wholeheartedly, I get it. But it will get better, you will breathe again and it will be okay. And if you feel angry toward her, remember, no matter what mistakes she’s made–she gave you life. And that is a gift that is superior to any pain she’s caused you. You are her gift to the world, the best part of her. To those that have their mother, love her for everything she is and isn’t, treasure her. Realize that the bond and the way she looks at you, it’s one of a kind, and not replaceable. Because one day you might wake up–and find just how much you miss her.

Everyone is a Seller

I was cleaning up the cloud of spaghetti sauce off of my black fitted apron as I threw away another dirty dish into the buckets at the end of the booth.

“I need table 7!” I yelled into the wild kitchen, aromas filling my nostrils.  I continued bustling along in my black blouse, slacks, and Mary Jane’s, pony tail in tow. Every seventeen year old knows that powerful feeling, the one where you just got promoted from “hostess” to “waitress”. It’s all in the apron.

As I moved along with my tables I noticed one of my fellow waitress workers, a veteran but very young, maybe in her late 20’s seemed  to be talking to certain people all the time. These people came in regularly at a certain time at night and ordered the most lavish meals an Italian eatery could offer. She combed her hair to bob in the back, dirty blonde tendrils loosely held back. Her mascara was freshly done and her earrings dangled down her neck. She looked confident, attractive. What I remember most about her is that she could SELL!

The wine would be flowing, the Sea Bass eaten, the pasta al dente, but most of all how that veteran waitress had a way with connecting with the people, making them feel like they weren’t in Upstate New York, but Venice, Italy. And I took notes, I learned from this waitress. At first I thought it was just a gift she possessed and, in some ways, that’s correct. But it can also be learned.

Taking an interest in people, listening, acting and dressing in an attractive manner, really draws people in. Now, some people are naturals at this, they naturally sell. It took me a while, and creating Digital Women CJS to really find out that selling is an attitude and it’s all about what you can do for someone else. It’s conveying a feeling that I care about you and here’s why my service is the best– because it’s the best for YOU- my client. Once I honed in on this lesson in personal development, the angels came out and sang the hallelujah chorus. It was so awesome to know that I was absolutely able to engage clients, to relate to them and to present in an attractive manner. As long as you believe in your product or service, you can sell just about anything.

The Story of the Farmer

So I admire Steve Harvey, for a variety of reasons; his story of hard work, his commitment to his faith and the woman in his life.

Here’s some awesome words he gives his trainer on farming.
If we take the time to look, God provides little so many lessons in such simple things, like farming.
There were times when I remember in my family, and I thought, how are we ever going to get through this? But don’t you know life has it’s seasons, and this too shall pass.
Remember, a farmer only needs a little rain to bring in an eventual crop. You just can’t stop planting your seed, they take time to grow to fruition. Just because things look one way outside, the seasons will change and a crop will come up.

More deep than we should be for a Friday, but you inspired me Steve.

 

http://www.iamsteveharvey.com/myworld/2016/1/7/what-i-learned-growing-up-on-a-farm.

~Christina

The Importance of Passion

My best friend had a cliche phrase that she would use sometimes; many of you are familiar with it. “Follow your heart.” As a child, I remember hearing my mother say “follow your heart, sweetie”. These phrases always sounded a little foolish to me, because the real world doesn’t care much about your passion… or do they?

When you operate in your gifts and talents, you bring an extra dose of energy and pzazz,–there’s a spring in your step, a note in your song. Not only are you happier and more joyful, but your customers take notice, as do your boss and co-workers. Everyone notices a difference. It’s what makes a ho-hum day, not so ordinary. You’ll be willing to work late, and arrive early.

So if you have all this extra “go-get ’em” when you are operating in your passions, than why wouldn’t your boss care? If you will work harder and more effectively, you’ll be a better employee. If your passionate about your family, you’ll be a better parent, a better spouse. It spills into other areas of our lives, like a new perfume others can tell.

So that phrase “follow your heart”, isn’t so crazy after all.