A Kick of Gratitude

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How do you turn pain into gratitude when you are willfully hurt on the job? A nurse's story of a precious gift lost.

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 32 years experience.

Turning pain into gratitude

A Kick of Gratitude

When I finally called and told my in-laws that I was six-and-a-half months pregnant with a baby boy, they were over the moon! I had lost two babies as miscarriages before my son and daughter were born, so I was wary of breaking the news early. We decided to name him after my dad Joseph, as my oldest was named after my father-in-law!

A few days later, working as a nurse in a local hospital, I went in to help one of the nursing attendants put a patient on a stretcher. It was a busy shift: I was covering for two nurses and had my own patient load and was rounding on all their patients. The patient, Ms. Smith, was being hospitalized for pneumonia and we needed a chest x-ray.

In addition to the pneumonia, Ms. Smith had schizophrenia, and she had not taken her medicine for the past two weeks. When I started to lift her to the stretcher, she lashed out at me.

“Hey! Ms. Smith, I have a little one here,” I said patting my belly as I stepped away from her to avoid her hitting me. “Let me help you to the stretcher from the bed.”

She agreed and I got the feet while Liz (the NA) got her shoulders. As soon as we put her on the stretcher, she kicked me in the belly saying, “You ************! Take that!”

I jumped back, shaken. Liz took her to Xray.

It was a glancing blow, I told myself, and never got checked out.  The day took a turn for the worse as one of the other nurses left on a family emergency and her patients got reassigned, four of them to me on top of my 9 patients! One of them was actively bleeding and I had to give him blood transfusion. Another kept wandering out into the hallway and was a high fall risk patient in her 80's. One of my patient's had to be rushed to the OR for a surgical emergency and yet another was DNR/DNI but actively dying with distraught family members milling around. In my taking care of others, I ignored myself and did not bother to go to the ED to get checked out. After all, I did not feel any pain and there was no bleeding. Moreover I had quick reflexes and jumped back, although her foot connected with my abdomen. I never filled an incident report or informed the nursing supervisor or the unit manager. As a Perdiem nurse working for my green card through an agency in this hospital, I aimed to do my work quietly and efficiently and did not want to rock the boat.

When I went home, I told my husband about what happened and he wanted me to get checked out but I told him that I felt fine and would get checked out in the ED at my regular job if anything changed. He was not reassured but went along with my plan as he knew I was careful and would not take chances.

A week later, when I went back to get the official ultrasound result from my doctor, she could not find a heartbeat. She wanted me to go back to the same ultrasound technician who had taken my ultrasound two weeks ago. She called the technician Gloria and told her that I was coming. I went into my car and burst out crying. I was shaking, cold and afraid. My mind went blank and I could not remember my home number or my husband's number. I had never stored it as I knew it by heart! After a half an hour, I remembered and called him from my car and told him. He was shocked. He was waiting to pick up the kids from two different schools and tried to explain to me how to get to the ultrasound place which was 20 minutes away.

I finally made it there and Gloria the tech was waiting for me. As she took me into the room I told her

"Ms. Gloria, I am an RN and can understand what no heartbeat means. I know you are not allowed to give out results but can you tell me if you can find a heartbeat or not. I can guess the rest!"

She silently nodded and for the next half hour tried to find a heartbeat. The repeat ultrasound showed that the baby had grown one more week from the last one. However, there was no heartbeat. My baby had died from the kick. She finally whispered, "I can't find a heartbeat miss!" My heart crumbled inside as the pain intensified. I had carried my dead son for a week unaware that he had died.  I had to go back the next day to the doctor and called out sick. When I went back, I got the official news that my son was dead. She suggested I get a dilatation and evacuation under General Anesthesia. I had to wait another four days for an appointment. I ended up getting the baby out under general anesthesia and was filled with rage and anger towards Ms. Smith.

That night, as I lay crying and weak in my bed, my uncle came visiting and invited me for a night mass of Eucharistic adoration, not knowing that I had just come from the hospital. My husband told me to go; he would take care of our two children. I went and wept all night asking for strength to forgive and the grace of healing. After morning Mass I was at peace and was able to forgive her. I still burst out crying months later when I saw a picture of many babies on the side of a bus at it pulled next to me at a traffic stop. The pain took years to heal. The next year I was blessed with a daughter who helped with the healing process. I never sued the hospital or the patient as no amount of money would give me back my son.

I have used this experience to help women who have gone through trauma, abortions and miscarriages to give them strength. Who thought that a kick of hatred would turn into an experience where others found comfort and healing by discussing their loss with me? So, I kick back in gratitude, for every pain one goes through can be turned around to help another person who may be silently suffering.

I am sure, somewhere in heaven, my son Joseph approves and waits patiently for our reunion.

Mom, wife, writer, nurse, loves music and laughter! A strong cup of coffee gets me going!

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14 Comment(s)

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 29 years experience.

What a gut wrenching experience.  Thanks for sharing.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

At this moment, I feel closer to you as a virtual friend for sharing your heart-wrenching story, spot.

And it's not just because of empathy for your traumatic experience, but because of the way in which you chose to deal with your pain as a result of this traumatic incident.  No one would fault you for putting up a wall in order to protect yourself and your feelings. Yet instead of putting up a wall, you built a bridge of love- for yourself and others- something I've read in this, and your other, articles.

Your situation also hits home with me in two episodes of my life. I returned to Jr college during my partial recovery after an MVA of being hit head-on by an intoxicated individual driving a pickup truck. I was telling a favorite instructor of the situation when she confronted me about my feelings of hatred toward the drunk driver.

Basically, she said that my hatred would eat me up like a cancer unless I learned to forgive this individual. Although initially I thought forgiveness toward someone who has expressed no remorse for his actions was ludicrous, this instructor had planted a seed. This seed grew into a magnanimous life-changing growth where I experienced the virtues of forgiveness.

I regularly think of, and thank, that wonderful instructor.

The other episode occurred after I had been stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors by a community client diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia. That night, my then wife and I laid in bed, held hands, and said a prayer for the client. Neither of us considered ourselves religious, but we were very spiritual and believed in Jesus' teachings of forgiveness.

Carrying negative baggage can be emotionally exhausting leading to spiritual bankruptcy.

Once again, thank you for sharing your story, but most of all, spot, thank you for being you.

 

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 32 years experience.

On 11/15/2021 at 12:46 PM, Tweety said:

What a gut wrenching experience.  Thanks for sharing.

The anger caught me by surprise and ate at me till I gave it up as I did not have the strength to forgive. I believe in the Lord's intervention as as a human being I could not understand what I did for her to lash out at me! I was very gentle with her and if I had ignored Liz the tech and walked away, I felt that  Joe would have been alive. But then how can you walk away from a coworker who is struggling? Liz had cerebral palsy and one of her arms was contracted and she couldn't do much with it. So I helped---no good deed goes unpunished!

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 32 years experience.

On 11/15/2021 at 3:17 PM, Davey Do said:

At this moment, I feel closer to you as a virtual friend for sharing your heart-wrenching story, spot.

And it's not just because of empathy for your traumatic experience, but because of the way in which you chose to deal with your pain as a result of this traumatic incident.  No one would fault you for putting up a wall in order to protect yourself and your feelings. Yet instead of putting up a wall, you built a bridge of love- for yourself and others- something I've read in this, and your other, articles.

Your situation also hits home with me in two episodes of my life. I returned to Jr college during my partial recovery after an MVA of being hit head-on by an intoxicated individual driving a pickup truck. I was telling a favorite instructor of the situation when she confronted me about my feelings of hatred toward the drunk driver.

Basically, she said that my hatred would eat me up like a cancer unless I learned to forgive this individual. Although initially I thought forgiveness toward someone who has expressed no remorse for his actions was ludicrous, this instructor had planted a seed. This seed grew into a magnanimous life-changing growth where I experienced the virtues of forgiveness.

I regularly think of, and thank, that wonderful instructor.

The other episode occurred after I had been stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors by a community client diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia. That night, my then wife and I laid in bed, held hands, and said a prayer for the client. Neither of us considered ourselves religious, but we were very spiritual and believed in Jesus' teachings of forgiveness.

Carrying negative baggage can be emotionally exhausting leading to spiritual bankruptcy.

Once again, thank you for sharing your story, but most of all, spot, thank you for being you.

 

Davey! Sorry to hear about all you went through. I highly respect psy nurses as they have to always be on high alert!

 It's better to forgive and regain your peace and sanity.

Nobody is ever lost! I just have to wait patiently to see Joe again some day! There are no tears in heaven to quote Eric Clapton!

Peace and hi to Belinda!

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

Thank you for sharing your very personal story. I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been to endure, or to recount, even all these years later. I have no doubt that Joe is so proud as he watches over you, for your ability to move forward retaining your compassion for others. A blessed reunion surely awaits you when the time comes!

CFitzRN, ADN

Specializes in L&D; GI; Fam Med; Home H; Case mgmt. Has 13 years experience.

On 11/11/2021 at 7:17 AM, spotangel said:
A Kick of Gratitude

When I finally called and told my in-laws that I was six-and-a-half months pregnant with a baby boy, they were over the moon! I had lost two babies as miscarriages before my son and daughter were born, so I was wary of breaking the news early. We decided to name him after my dad Joseph, as my oldest was named after my father-in-law!

A few days later, working as a nurse in a local hospital, I went in to help one of the nursing attendants put a patient on a stretcher. It was a busy shift: I was covering for two nurses and had my own patient load and was rounding on all their patients. The patient, Ms. Smith, was being hospitalized for pneumonia and we needed a chest x-ray.

In addition to the pneumonia, Ms. Smith had schizophrenia, and she had not taken her medicine for the past two weeks. When I started to lift her to the stretcher, she lashed out at me.

“Hey! Ms. Smith, I have a little one here,” I said patting my belly as I stepped away from her to avoid her hitting me. “Let me help you to the stretcher from the bed.”

She agreed and I got the feet while Liz (the NA) got her shoulders. As soon as we put her on the stretcher, she kicked me in the belly saying, “You ************! Take that!”

I jumped back, shaken. Liz took her to Xray.

It was a glancing blow, I told myself, and never got checked out.  The day took a turn for the worse as one of the other nurses left on a family emergency and her patients got reassigned, four of them to me on top of my 9 patients! One of them was actively bleeding and I had to give him blood transfusion. Another kept wandering out into the hallway and was a high fall risk patient in her 80's. One of my patient's had to be rushed to the OR for a surgical emergency and yet another was DNR/DNI but actively dying with distraught family members milling around. In my taking care of others, I ignored myself and did not bother to go to the ED to get checked out. After all, I did not feel any pain and there was no bleeding. Moreover I had quick reflexes and jumped back, although her foot connected with my abdomen. I never filled an incident report or informed the nursing supervisor or the unit manager. As a Perdiem nurse working for my green card through an agency in this hospital, I aimed to do my work quietly and efficiently and did not want to rock the boat.

When I went home, I told my husband about what happened and he wanted me to get checked out but I told him that I felt fine and would get checked out in the ED at my regular job if anything changed. He was not reassured but went along with my plan as he knew I was careful and would not take chances.

A week later, when I went back to get the official ultrasound result from my doctor, she could not find a heartbeat. She wanted me to go back to the same ultrasound technician who had taken my ultrasound two weeks ago. She called the technician Gloria and told her that I was coming. I went into my car and burst out crying. I was shaking, cold and afraid. My mind went blank and I could not remember my home number or my husband's number. I had never stored it as I knew it by heart! After a half an hour, I remembered and called him from my car and told him. He was shocked. He was waiting to pick up the kids from two different schools and tried to explain to me how to get to the ultrasound place which was 20 minutes away.

I finally made it there and Gloria the tech was waiting for me. As she took me into the room I told her

"Ms. Gloria, I am an RN and can understand what no heartbeat means. I know you are not allowed to give out results but can you tell me if you can find a heartbeat or not. I can guess the rest!"

She silently nodded and for the next half hour tried to find a heartbeat. The repeat ultrasound showed that the baby had grown one more week from the last one. However, there was no heartbeat. My baby had died from the kick. She finally whispered, "I can't find a heartbeat miss!" My heart crumbled inside as the pain intensified. I had carried my dead son for a week unaware that he had died.  I had to go back the next day to the doctor and called out sick. When I went back, I got the official news that my son was dead. She suggested I get a dilatation and evacuation under General Anesthesia. I had to wait another four days for an appointment. I ended up getting the baby out under general anesthesia and was filled with rage and anger towards Ms. Smith.

That night, as I lay crying and weak in my bed, my uncle came visiting and invited me for a night mass of Eucharistic adoration, not knowing that I had just come from the hospital. My husband told me to go; he would take care of our two children. I went and wept all night asking for strength to forgive and the grace of healing. After morning Mass I was at peace and was able to forgive her. I still burst out crying months later when I saw a picture of many babies on the side of a bus at it pulled next to me at a traffic stop. The pain took years to heal. The next year I was blessed with a daughter who helped with the healing process. I never sued the hospital or the patient as no amount of money would give me back my son.

I have used this experience to help women who have gone through trauma, abortions and miscarriages to give them strength. Who thought that a kick of hatred would turn into an experience where others found comfort and healing by discussing their loss with me? So, I kick back in gratitude, for every pain one goes through can be turned around to help another person who may be silently suffering.

I am sure, somewhere in heaven, my son Joseph approves and waits patiently for our reunion.

I am so touched by your story, especially how you turned to our Lord at the darkest moment possible and allowed Him to hold and heal you. I am so inspired. God bless you.  

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 32 years experience.

1 hour ago, JBMmom said:

Thank you for sharing your very personal story. I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been to endure, or to recount, even all these years later. I have no doubt that Joe is so proud as he watches over you, for your ability to move forward retaining your compassion for others. A blessed reunion surely awaits you when the time comes!

Thanks JBMmom! I am no saint but always hope I could be one!! I have noticed in my life that if I can turn my sorrows to help others, then life becomes more bearable and I am able to say this is why I had to go through this pain. I always rest my weary head at the foot of the cross and ask for strength, courage and grace to overcome the trouble of the day!

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 32 years experience.

Thank you!The lord has always been my hero and inspiration! After all ,the Lord went through much more for me! I trust He understands my pain and can heal me! So I turn to his counsel first and He never fails me or let’s me down!

You can always count on Him coming through for you!

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

Thank you so much for sharing so personal and poignant a story. I am glad you could forgive that lady for the kick.  Had it happened to me, it would be highly unlikely I ever would. I have had several losses and getting past them was difficult at best. I am not a forgiving person in situations like this.

I have a solid belief in God and His mercy and that would be what would get my by in such times.

I am glad you are forgiving. I wish I were.....

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 32 years experience.

3 hours ago, SmilingBluEyes said:

Thank you so much for sharing so personal and poignant a story. I am glad you could forgive that lady for the kick.  Had it happened to me, it would be highly unlikely I ever would. I have had several losses and getting past them was difficult at best. I am not a forgiving person in situations like this.

I have a solid belief in God and His mercy and that would be what would get my by in such times.

I am glad you are forgiving. I wish I were.....

I  got that grace from God! I am not a forgiving person by nature! We don't have within us. That's why I turned to God!

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

1 hour ago, spotangel said:

I  got that grace from God! I am not a forgiving person by nature! We don't have within us. That's why I turned to God!

God has not graced me with such forgiveness in such a severe situation. I am glad he chose you. There are some things that are un-forgivable to me. This is one of them.