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maggiejrn 2,379 Views

Joined: Aug 30, '09; Posts: 9 (100% Liked) ; Likes: 51

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  • Dec 23 '09

    When I was nine years old, my brother Adam was murdered by someone who was supposed to be caring for him. His murder went unsolved and unprosecuted for 19 years. The man who killed Adam is now sitting behind bars but will be released soon.

    I filled the anniversary of Adam's murder with busy things so that I would not have to think about it so deeply. How does one mark the day when everything changed forever? It has taken me most of my life to see past the violent details of the day. Some say that an event is like a ripple of water that continues to expand in circles until it reaches the edge of the pond and then travels back in towards the center. The lines cross and re-cross each other until they settle and the pond resumes its mirrored surface. The circumstances of Adam's death touched me more like a tsunami. It ripped my childhood out of my arms forever. When the water receded the landscape revealed a family that had been scattered and broken. There was no mirrored surface. The lake was gone.

    Adam's death defined me for so long. It's not like having my brother killed and all that followed was something that I had in common with any other child. I have struggled in adulthood to untangle my brother's memory from his his death. I have struggled to remember his face. His belly laughs. I have tried to find ways that he has touched my life, other than the horrible circumstances of his death and the years of hurt that became a part of my identity.

    I did not have a typical sibling bond with Adam, because nothing about Adam was typical. He was born with Cornelia deLange Syndrome. When most people saw him they thought he was much younger than his age because he was very tiny. At age six he was about 22 pounds. Adam was born with only one hand. The other hand ended at the elbow. He had long, thick eyelashes that constantly drew comments. His eyes were deep and intense. When he smiled the dimples would show. He only smiled for people he loved. Although labeled as "severely mentally retarded," Adam could play jokes. He could cleverly wrap his teachers and family around his finger without them realizing it until later. Once, when he didn't want to wear his hearing aids anymore, he managed to hide them in a toy at school for several days. How he managed to hide them-- when he had a hard time manipulating anything-- remains a mystery.

    In a couple of weeks I'm going to start nursing school. There are several reasons I want to be a nurse. I find myself at age 35 going back to school with that dream. I enjoy caring for people. I learned a lot in caring for my own daughter who has struggled with health problems from birth. I helped some friends through the births of their children and found that I was good at it. But before all that, there was Adam.

    I saw him work for months to accomplish the milestones that most babies learn naturally. Other milestones he did not pass, but instead he made up his own milestones and passed them. For example, one day he managed to slowly and painfully scoot combat-style (he could not crawl) down the hallway, into my bedroom. He got into my bucket of crayons that he had always eyed but was not allowed to play with because they were a choking hazard. He not only managed to dump them, but he ate several and left tooth marks on many more. He was discovered grinning and drooling in rainbow colors, extremely proud of himself.

    I was not conscious of Adam's lessons when I was a child, but looking back now, I see the gifts that Adam left me. I never took for granted the fact that I could walk. I used to play with his wheelchair and try to steer it around the neighborhood (and ran it off more than a few curbs, tipping it and skinning my hands and knees). I realized how hurtful it was to stare at someone who was different-looking. I felt sad when people stared at Adam sitting in the baby seat in the shopping cart instead of smiling at him like they did with all the cute babies. Adam noticed the stares and it hurt him. Yes, even developmentally delayed people have feelings.

    Adam taught me that anger comes from sadness and frustration. He felt that more than most kids his age. Most importantly, he taught me that it's necessary for healing to have someone to stay with you until the wave passes. No one should have to carry that burden alone.

    When Adam laughed, he did not just giggle. He laughed with his entire being, sometimes until his eyes were wet with tears. When Adam laughed, we dropped everything and laughed with him.

    Adam showed me how to listen to someone who is not able to talk. He could express more through body language than there are words to define in our spoken language. His teachers tried to teach him a bit of sign language to use with his one good hand but that was mostly for his caregivers to know if he was hungry or had a diaper to change. At home, we interpreted his needs through his emotions and our own intuitions.

    Adam could appreciate the beauty that many of us can no longer see because our thoughts are so crowded. He loved windmills and wind chimes. He would scoot up under the Christmas tree and lie there watching the lights from a perspective that most of would not think of taking. One evening I crawled under there with him and we sat watching the stars twinkle in the sky of our own private universe.

    Adam Benjamin Clark was my brother for six and a half years. But into that short life he packed a lifetime of gifts for his big sister. His death defined my childhood, but his life defines my adulthood and how I see the world.

    He will never be forgotten. Sisters never forget.

  • Sep 5 '09

    I committed this medication error during my first month of training in the hospital. I was assigned in the medical/surgical/pediatric floor of the hospital. We have 38 patients at that time and we're only 4 nurses on duty, dengue hemorrhagic fever was on its in short, it was a toxic duty. I was assigned at that time to do vital signs and another nurse was assigned to do the medication. There was a new doctor's order for one of our patient which was to incorporate BNC or benutrex c. I was not able to read the doctor's order and was not assigned to do the medication. The nurse assigned to it, prepared the medication and asked me to give it to the patient without any instruction, she just said give it to the patient. I was looking for the medication card and she said there's none for such order. So without hesitation, I gave the medication but I gave it via IV push. The patient reacted when the medication hit her vein because she said it hurt a little so when I returned to the nurse station, I told my head nurse, "The patient got hurt a little when I gave the meds" so she asked why. I said "I IV pushed the meds" and it all started there.

    My headnurse called up the Supervisor to report the incident. hen I was so nervous that something bad might happen to the patient since I gave it incorrectly. So what I did was to monitor her every 15 minutes to make sure nothing bad happened to the patient and even checked if she's developing allergies although it was given after negative skin test reading. I got so worried during the entire shift and I asked myself, why did I do that...I promised myself to never ever give medication that I did not prepare. I took accountability for that mistake and even volunteered that I will make an incident report.

    The hospital that I work with is a small tertiary hospital with only a few employees, so rumor spreaded so fast that this new nurse made an error. I was not aware that there was a young nurse who's working in the hospital longer than me, who were irritated the way I short, she dislikes me because I'm too feminine and she even quoted me as their "favorite" in their unit, in a sarcastic way. I was thinking, what made her to dislike me since I was not able to work with her during shifts. She was in night shift and I was in the morning shift. She does not know how I do my work and on how I treat other people..She does not know me so well for them to judge me. She said negative things about me, she even gave me a name "BNC". She even told new nurses about my error with my name in the story then they made fun of it, making me an like a stupid nurse. I've been hearing those things, it hurts, it lowered my self-esteem and even felt so demoralized but I let things roll off my back.

    Just a few weeks ago (I've been working in the hospital for almost a year now) I heard negative things from her again, she wanted to hit me in the face because she got irritated the way I look at her. I said to myself, I don't do anything bad to her, she does not even know me and i don't deserve what she's doing to me, I have to stand up for myself. I've been keeping my patience for months and this time she went overboard. I went to their nurse station and confronted her, I can say I made a scene out there. It was not my intention, but this nurse told me that I was rude so the conversation ended up with loud voices.

    After the incident, this nurse that I confronted talked to our Supervisor about it, I voluntarily made my incident report to explain my side about it, why I got mad. We ended up having a resolution with our Nursing Service Director. I told her everything, the nurse I confronted had the guts to deny it, she even told the director that she does not know why I was angry at her. But when I voiced out what's inside me, she was caught because she told the Director that she was not the only one laughing but everybody. The director told her that medication error is not a laughing matter but a delicate issue because it can be fatal. In front of the Director, we reconciled but I know outside the director's office I know, hatred was in her heart. Confronting that nurse is something that I am not proud of but I really have to stand up for myself. I may be tagged that I have temper but if I did nothing it will haunt me. I should have done that in a professional manner.

    Lesson learned: If someone committed an error, it does not mean that for the rest of her life she will make mistake. It's the way of learning. Do not judge the person based on first impression. You don't have to like the person personally for you to be able to get along with at work. There is an overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect,

    kindness, and generosity.