Jump to content
2019 Nursing Salary Survey Read more... ×

You Never Know What's Beneath the Surface - I'm a Prison Mom

Nurses Article   (19,183 Views 41 Comments 733 Words)

traumaRUs has 25 years experience as a MSN, APRN and works as a Asst Community Manager @ allnurses.

505 Likes; 14 Followers; 127 Articles; 185,018 Visitors; 20,514 Posts

advertisement

We’ve all seen them: the men and women standing on street corners, sleeping in doorways, asking for money, food, jobs. Here's my story....

You Never Know What's Beneath the Surface - I'm a Prison Mom

Last weekend, I drove over to visit my son - about 120 miles. I was kinda tired so about mid-way thru the drive, I decided to stop at Starbucks. I pulled off the highway and the drive-thru was packed so I decided I would go inside. It would give me time to stretch my legs.

As I pulled into a parking space, I noticed absentmindedly that there was a man sitting at the side of the building. He was shivering and had remnants of several hot beverages spread around him. I felt bad for him - it was in the 20's and rainy. However, I kinda did the glance above his head and went inside. I didn't really want to see him as my mind was occupied with spending the weekend with my husband.

So I ordered my latte and stepped over in the second line to wait for my order to come up. There was a lady in front of me, who turned to me and said that she always came to Starbucks every morning to get three shots of espresso over ice.

I casually mentioned that it was very strong drink and that it must give her lots of energy. She turned away for a second and then turned back to me and said with tears streaming down her face, "its for my son. He's homeless and its the only way I can try to make sure he is okay every day." I felt so sorry for her, I gave her a hug and told her I was on my way to see my son, in prison; before going on to see my husband.

I got my drink, gave her another smile as we exited together and went on past the shivering man to my car. I gathered a blanket I keep in my car for the winter and gave it to the man. He thanked me and wished me a good day.

My son, too has been homeless at times. It is a heartache that many parents experience: the pain of addiction and poor choices. Some of our kids are homeless, some in prison, others in places unknown to their families. Others sadly, are dead.

I started this article to point out that I never was a very kind or compassionate ER nurse, the tougher and rougher crowd were my kind of patients. I had little patience for drunk, high or mentally ill patients, I was so tough, nothing could touch me.

However, in the deep recesses of my mind, I thought my family was somehow above the addicted patient, the homeless patient, the mentally ill patient. After all, if their parents and/or families REALLY cared about them, they wouldn't be that way, right?

I was higher and mightier and more smug than I had any right to be.

And...one day, I found out how far the mighty can fall. The story isn't pretty and I won't bore anyone with the details.

Suffice it to say that I am now what is known as a Prison Mom. I visit my son 4-5 times per month. The families sit in the waiting room after checking in, waiting for their turn to go the "pat down" room and then on to the visitation room where they wait some more for their husbands, fathers, sons to come in.

It is a demeaning experience for us. We share a bond with all the families. Though we all come from varied backgrounds - the one thing we have in common is that we love our family members that have made these poor choices that have imprisoned them and in turn....us.

I tell this story as a gentle reminder that we never know what is beneath the surface ot other's attitudes: the "crusty" nurse might have a disabled husband or adult child whom she cares for, the young "flaky" nurse might have been up with a colicky baby all night, the "nasty" doctor might have just lost a family member of his own.

Our lives are so finite and if you've been a nurse for very long you know this to be true. So...take some time today to be thankful for TODAY because your LIFE can change QUICKLY!

advertisement

14-yr RN experience, ER, ICU, pre-hospital RN, 12+ years experience Nephrology APRN. allnurses Assistant Community Manager. Please let me know how I can help make our site enjoyable.

505 Likes; 14 Followers; 127 Articles; 185,018 Visitors; 20,514 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

meanmaryjean has 40 years experience and works as a Nursing Faculty.

49 Likes; 3 Followers; 63,701 Visitors; 7,496 Posts

Thank you. {{ hugs }}

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

6 Likes; 3 Followers; 17 Articles; 65,651 Visitors; 5,259 Posts

Thanks for this reminder, traumaRUs. God be with you and your family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1,035 Visitors; 21 Posts

Such an inspirational story. We all have situations in our lives that make us wonder "why me, why this"? The truth is I really don't know. Perphaps God is giving someone a "wake up" call or bringing us to our knees to remember God is all we truly need in this mess of life. I focus so much on my own problems that sometimes I forget that we are not alone. I deal with addiction, anxiety/phobia, and depression. And these things that I deal with are crippling sometimes. I don't know what it's like, though, to have a child in prison. Or what it's like being homeless. Or deal with a dying wife with cancer. The point is we all deal with something. I think my problems are MUCH, MUCH worse, though, than another. I thank you for this thread, for it reminds me how easy it is to forget to be happy. Maybe for the next five minutes. That's a step in a positive direction. Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

5,129 Visitors; 222 Posts

I have to say it--Nurses are people, too. We have all the same stresses and struggles as everybody else.

I work in a prison, and on weekend mornings I see them, the families, coming to visit their loved ones. They look like anybody else, very ordinary, but they always look tired. Like the whole experience drains them somehow. I imagine it does--prison sucks, and the whole visitation routine is humiliating: getting strip-searched, treated like a criminal yourself. I know--they pat me down before I go in, too. Because you can't trust anybody, unfortunately--drugs and weapons seem to find their way in, always, and you just can't tell who is being conned, blackmailed, or guilt-tripped into supplying the stuff. It's a different world...I just want to take care of people, but I have to remember that I'm human and can be manipulated like anyone else. There but for the grace of God go I...

Ultimately, though, our own experiences make us better nurses. I am a strong believer in the wounded healer--no one knows what you're going through like someone who's been there.

Thank you for this article--it really hit home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Farawyn has 25 years experience and works as a RN.

49 Likes; 2 Followers; 97,249 Visitors; 12,639 Posts

I'm sorry, trauma. This must be rough.

You are only as happy as your saddest child.

Thanks for putting it out here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NightOwl0624 has 6 years experience.

9,620 Visitors; 536 Posts

Thank you for sharing your story and important message. I am truly sorry for what your family is going through.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TheCommuter has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a CRRN, now a case management RN.

21 Likes; 1 Follower; 228 Articles; 315,349 Visitors; 27,607 Posts

Thank you for this timely, important and very personal reminder. We need to think twice and always be mindful that we never really know what is going on with another individual until we tap under the surface.

Again, thank you. I will keep my fingers crossed for you and your family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pbrown1414 has 37 years experience and works as a Hospice RN.

1,302 Visitors; 19 Posts

I so understand where you are coming from. My son is one who has seen the inside of several jail cells at different times. bipolar and drug abuse as well as TBI. Some times the love is tested, but always we love them. I look at others and their issues and have learned the hard way over the years to leave judgement behind and look to the need and the positives. God didn't ask me to decide who deserved my help, but to just help. So I try to do what is right. I am a Hospice nurse, so it is a bit easier to leave behind the judgement, as there is just no time for it. All I want to do is give them peace and comfort on their way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1,493 Visitors; 22 Posts

Thank you for your story. Being retired now, I think about how many lives that I have come across through-out the years. I always tried to remember that this person or that person could belong to me so I always treated everyone with a kindness. There was one time that I specifically had to ask God for forgiveness while taking care of a drug dealer because all I could see was him trying to sell to them or encourage my child to work for him. It was very tough but I made it. I did have to forgive myself first for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3,125 Visitors; 88 Posts

Thank you for sharing your story. Your words are extremely wise. Life can change so quickly, and its important that we are reminded of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Donna Maheady has 38 years experience and works as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, Auth.

1 Follower; 13 Articles; 38,563 Visitors; 159 Posts

Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us. One of my dear friends and a nursing colleague is a "prison Mom" as well.My heart goes out to all of you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×