Sock it to me!

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Sock CroppedMy patient was wearing some great looking socks with a colorful peace symbol on them.  So Sebastopol, I loved it. But, it’s my job to make sure our patients wear the non-skid socks we provide to help prevent falls. So, I had to ask her to take off her cool socks and wear ours.

“Hmmm,” she said, a twinkle in her eye, “You just want my socks.”

“How dare you insinuate I would take your socks,” I said joking.  “But, they are really cool.”

Today, I received a little package in the mail.  There was a pair of cool socks with the colorful peace symbol, and a note from my patient.

This is one of the reasons I am a nurse.  It fills my heart with satisfaction when I hear one of my patients appreciated the truly human interaction that we had, and the care we love to provide.

 

David Daniels, RN at Sonoma West Medical Center

My Dad left a legacy of humility and trust

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Sonoma West Medical Center Vital Signs Blog

Sonoma West Medical Center Vital Signs BlogThere is no easy way to lose someone in your life. No matter what your beliefs are, there is no easy way to say goodbye to a person whose life has mattered to you.  We hear stories from you about how you have dealt with feelings of loss and grief, and almost always they are life-affirming, inspiring stories.

When I lost my father I felt like the ground had caved under me.  He was my rock.  Always calm, endlessly patient and kind, my father could solve any problem.

One day not long after my father’s death I was cleaning house, dusting my bookshelves.  My father had been an avid reader and philosopher, and we shared that love of learning.  I stopped in front of the biography of Katharine Graham, Personal History, the woman who was thrust into the position of Publisher/Owner of the Washington Post in 1963 when her husband committed suicide.  My father and I had read her book together, and had admired Katharine Graham’s courage, intelligence and perseverance. We discussed her willingness to ask for help and gather trusted advisors around her. That’s when my father told me he thought the ability to humble oneself and ask for help was a rare quality in a leader, and actually the sign of a person who has learned to use trust as a path to success.

In the moment of that memory, feather duster in hand, I felt the strength of my father’s presence through his wisdom.  I “got” that this was my father’s greatest legacy to me.  I often reflect upon his ability to calmly sift through problems searching for the solution, sharing his thought process – questioning, always questioning – and then the exuberance of the ‘Aha!’ moment when he would say, “Well, what do you think of that, Janie girl? I think we found an answer!

– A Grateful Daughter

 

When Conette was just seven years old, her life changed forever

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Conette arrives every day to Becoming Independent, bounding into the building with a smile on her face and enough enthusiasm to wake a hibernating bear.  On either side of her, she supports herself with a silver and red walker which is strewn with her purse and bags full of snacks to last her the whole workweek.  “You bring your whole kitchen in with you today?” I ask as she finds a seat.  “Almost!” she responds with a chuckle. Watching her socialize with her peers and the staff, one would never know the traumatic obstacles she has overcome in her 29 years of life.  I asked Conette if she would share her story with me on how she has overcome so much in life, and where she found the courage to do so.

Conette

“Still a child, Conette’s life had been completely changed before it had really started.”

Conette was born with cerebral palsy.  She grew up using canes and walkers to support her while she walked.  Although she needed these supports, this did not stop Conette from enjoying a normal childhood.  However, when she was just seven years old, Conette’s life was changed forever.  She was out in her neighborhood, enjoying an afternoon with the other children when a young boy accidentally lit the hem of her dress on fire, setting her ablaze.  Her neighbor saw Conette and the fire. He immediately rushed to her, throwing himself onto the fire, which engulfed her.  Conette was taken to the emergency room, and then was flown to St. Francis hospital in San Francisco.  Upon her arrival, doctors informed her family that she had a 50% chance of surviving her burns and that her lungs were so damaged, she would need a ventilator to help her breathe.  Thankfully, Conette made it through and for the next few months; she would endure “hundreds of surgeries” to help repair and graft her severely burned skin, which covered over half of her body.

I asked Conette if she remembered being burned, or the early days of her time in the hospital.  She told me no, she doesn’t have much recollection from that time.   Still a child, Conette’s life had been completely changed before it had really started.  I asked her how differently she was treated by people and how it affected her.  “Other kids were told to stay away from me…it made me feel lonely, like no one liked me”, she explained. Conette spent most of her childhood and teens, feeling like an outsider.  Although her appearance had changed, Conette’s spirit did not.  She persevered and remained strong through her childhood and teens, taking the initiative to start conversations with people, just to be friendly. It wasn’t until her 20’s that she felt she was accepted and treated normally by her adult counterparts.

When Conette turned 21, she had three more surgeries to correct her legs, which were turned inwards due to her cerebral palsy.  As well, at age 27 she had surgery to repair a slip disc in her spine caused by a fall. “I didn’t want another surgery” she said, “It’s so hard on the body.”

Today, Conette works and makes a modest living working at Becoming Independent.  She lives at home with her mother, has a boyfriend, and enjoys baking and cooking.

There is a saying, how a person handles hardship in their life, determines a lot about that persons character.  As someone who has known Conette for over a year, I would say that she is one of the most courageous and inspiring people I have met.  She has overcome several traumatic experiences, and has left them in the past.  These experiences may have changed her life, but they do not define her.

At the end of the interview, I asked Conette, “Where do you think all the courage came from to help you through those traumatic experiences?” She simply replied, “My heart.”

 

– Alyssa Soares

Lib Morgan’s plan to stay in her home as long as possible

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Go Fish

Photo of Lib Morgan on her 90th birthday, with her big fish.

My mom lives in rural North Carolina in the home she came to as a bride in 1949.  Since my father’s death eight years ago, she has lived there alone.  There are no neighbors within view and she loves the tranquility of that.  It is her fervent wish to stay put as long as possible.  This determination reinforces her practices of walking every day (indoors to Big Band music if the weather is bad,) eating well, and following her doctors’ commands.

The compounding losses and physical miseries that accompany the privilege of reaching the age of ninety affect my mom, yet she consciously refuses self-pity.  She is a realist with a strong faith in God and a ready sense of humor.  Her approach to daily life is infused with gratitude.  She notices the gifts that come her way without any rigid expectations that would set her up for disappointment.  On a daily basis, she expresses her deep joy in nature, pointing out a pileated woodpecker, a nesting barn swallow in her carport, deer tracks.  I cannot count the number of times she has paused and said to me, “Just look at that!  We are so blessed to live here!”

The other thing that sustains my mom consistently is her determination to make a contribution in whatever way she can. She thinks up thoughtful things she can do or say that would support or aid others and carries them out. There are many people who love my mom, but none more than her grandchildren.  She taught all ten to drive by accompanying them as they aimed between trees in her wooded yard.  Her overall attitude to life was probably summed up as she told each nervous teen, “Remember, I love you more than I love my car!”

P.Elise Morgan