Beware: A Patient May Steal Your Heart
A good rule of thumb when resigning from a nursing position is to always leave in good standing. Life with all its’ challenges, will sometimes find us coming full circle returning to our comfort zone. This was my case after my D.O.N. travel assignment was complete. I returned to my past place of employment and accepted the 3-11 Supervisory position. This was an easy transition because my past employment at this facility had covered a number of different management positions over a period of seven years.
A few weeks into my old routine, while making my usual rounds, after a code situation had left me winded, red faced, and shaky,, I passed by the back courtyard deciding to step outside for a breath of fresh air. Much to my surprise, there was a beautiful vegetable garden with plants close to four feet high and abundant with tomatoes and peppers. While sitting on the bench admiring the view, a young man…very small in stature with an angelic face, and a nice smile, came rolling out in his wheelchair. Since he was obviously a resident, indicative by his physical being, but there was one thing that puzzled m. This is a long term care facility and it was uncommon to have a resident who looked so young.
He gave me a nonchalant wave, said “Hello” and proceeded to go over to inspect his plants. As he rolled back by, I introduced myself, he told me his name was Mike. We struck up a conversation about his garden and I added my expertise with some gardening tips, and how I enjoyed doing home canning. He told me about a recipe his Grandmother used to make involving banana peppers stuffed with sauerkraut that sounded interesting. A promise was made that day if he could pull up this recipe on line for me, I would make him some to compare my skills against his grandmother’s. When I managed to find time to make his recipe of stuffed peppers that equaled the taste of his Grandmother’s, our friendship was steadfast.
During our many shared conversations later out in the garden, he began to tell me his life story. He was diagnosed at age 3 with genetic Muscular Dystrophy and a life expectancy of 20 years. His mother was not able to cope with his prognosis so she began heavily sedating herself with alcohol on a daily basis. At the young age of 9, he was smoking cigarettes because he had been told that his life expectancy at that time was 15 years. He developed an attitude at this young age to live life to the fullest and a need to
do things in life quickly, because of his prognosis of a very short life expectancy.
At age 11 with a new prognosis of living to be 22 years old, he then began drinking beer, doing drugs, and living each day like it might be his last. Reaching the age of 15, as he so aptly put it “I wobbled away (ran away) from my Mother during this time frame, because of her ongoing physical and emotional abuse. Fortunately he was adopted by a foster family who saved me from a life of juvenile detention. He is very fortunate because his family continues to be supportive and very involved in his life.
There is never reference to my foster brothers and sisters, it is always my brother, sister etc. a true loving family any young man would be fortunate to have in life.
Watching this young man who has reached the ripe old age of 42 roll around the halls in his electric wheelchair, he is always quick to stop, assist as physically able or call for help if another resident is in need of a staff member’s assistance. He will give a possession to another resident if he feels they need it more, with little thought that he has such few worldly possessions himself. An example of this behavior is during the Super Bowl his favorite team the Pittsburg Steelers were playing. A resident who suffers from Dementia was also a Steelers fan, but did not have any item indicating his team preference, so Mike gave him a scarf to wear during the game, and later to keep as a reminder of there victory. Even with his Dementia diagnosis the resident smiled and held onto his scarf throughout the whole game. What a great moment when Mike rolled his chair over to the Alzheimer’s Unit to tell the patient that… indeed their team had won. Even with his dementia process, there was a glimmer of understanding in his eyes, and a big smile covered his face.
Watching Mike laugh, smile, and enjoy each day with whatever trials and tribulations it might sometimes bring, my mind always thinks of what a remarkable man he is. As days go by he is always smiling, showing kindness, yet dealing each day with his physical handicaps, and living with a terminal diagnosis. Sometimes a fleeting thought runs through my mind that some day I might lose him to this dreadful disease. With sadness in my heart one day, I shared this thought with one of my male friends who put some real perspective on this subject with a comment “Be grateful for every day God chooses to leave him on earth and do not think about the future!” There is no doubt a special place in the hereafter for this exceptional youngLast edit by Joe V on Aug 19, '09
About Lindsey McGraw
Joined: Jan '05; Posts: 32; Likes: 318
3-11 Supervisor LTC; from US
34 year(s) of experience in Med Sur, LTCAug 23, '09cool one dear
espesially after the whole touching story of yours
Your friend gave a nice and true statement not only about Mike's life but for everyone of us
God bless.Aug 23, '09Wata a super article. How fortunate you are to have had this experience. Also how generous you are to have shared it.
MacspudsAug 24, '09What a beautiful story with more than one lesson to be learned....thank you for sharing it!
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