In honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to re-publish this article from last fall. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own world of problems that sometimes we need a humble reminder that it could be worse.
As I have mentioned before, I work in healthcare. One of my places of employment was in a ventilator dependent nursing home, the last stop on many patients’ roads, and the one with the worst reputation in our area. It was a horrible job with too much work and never enough staff or equipment to properly care for the patients, so the nurses and therapists literally ran for 12 hours straight. I loved my job in that crap hole as much as I hated it. Every day there was a new ridiculous rule from management but on the flip side, there would be moments I was humbled and blessed to spend with one of my patients who all became family. Some of my patients were in constant pain or some level of anxiety or depression, but I could get most to crack a smile at some point in my shift. This job was great for me, because on my darkest days I would sit back and think how my life could be so much worse.
Paul, one of my favorites in my 18 years of healthcare was one of “those” stories I will never forget and will always keep him in my heart. Paul is only 20 years old and fell off a piece of farm equipment about a year and a half ago, suffering a severe head injury. While in the hospital Paul suffered a stroke, rendering his left side to only gross movements in his left leg. His right side was not much better.
When you would walk into Paul’s room at the nursing home and look at his mangled body, you would wonder if he was even “in there”…then those gorgeous piercing blue eyes would catch yours. The more you talked to Paul the more you saw he was definitely “in there” as far as severe head injuries go.
Paul would always wave to me as best he could and smile big. If I would wink at Paul, I could see his wheels turning in his cloudy head, he would scrunch up his face very slowly and wink back, then smile again. One night, Paul got mad and pulled his tracheostomy tube out. The physician decided to leave it out because Paul had been off the ventilator for a while and was improving. While Paul had his trach in, he never had enough wind power to be able to talk. (In nursing homes, cuffs on trachs are deflated if the patient is non ventilated so they can feel a little more human)
I was blessed to take care of him a few nights after he pulled his little stunt. I was in his room with his nurse and we were laughing and teasing Paul as we were caring for him. His face was in a huge smile from ear to ear. I told the nurse how Paul had surprised himself earlier because he sighed loudly and made a noise with his voice. The nurse told me if Paul’s mom didn’t come in that weekend (it was late Thursday night) she would call her on Monday morning because she had been working with Paul and he had something to tell his mom. She then said “Paul, tell Bella what you are going to tell your mom.”
He turned his head to me and it was difficult to make out, but it was THERE. Paul said “Ah luh you mah.” My heart immediately melted, I grabbed his hand and got big tears in my eyes. He was as elated as I was. It was 2 am. I looked at the nurse and said “This cannot wait….we are both moms. “ She quickly agreed and whipped out her cell phone.
Paul’s mom sobbed when she heard her son’s voice for the first time in over a year, and to hear Paul say “I love you mom” was nothing short of a miracle. She thanked us many times for waking her up.
**names have been changed due to HIPAA