Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What I was feeling at the time

Although I was fully aware of my condition, I wasn't fully able to comprehend how it would impact the rest of my life. This was a blessing because I think I would've been completely overwhelmed if I'd known then just how drastically different my life would be. One thing I remember thinking was, "Am I really never going to shower again?" Of course, this was the least of my problems, but it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I would never shower again.

I also realized my nursing career was over before it had ever really begun. I was now the patient! Although it had taken me a while to decide what I wanted to study in college and "what I wanted to be when I grew up," I was completely committed to being a nurse.

My ultimate dream was to be a wife and a mother. It's not a glamorous dream, exactly, but it's what I'd always wanted most out of life, and I assumed I would have it. I didn't think anything would ever get in the way of that dream, either. In my mind it was just a given. [The loss of this dream didn't really sink in until the following May when my sister Sharon was in town visiting. She had two girls at the time and when I saw her mothering her own children, I started to cry because I could see in front of me what I'd never have. Although I was devastated at the time, this is something I have accepted, and it really doesn't bother me anymore. It's given me a lot of empathy for any woman who can't have children, or who has fertility problems.]

If I can't have children of my own, truly the next best thing is being an aunt. I dearly love my nieces and nephews, and I'm so glad to have them as part of my life. All of my sisters understand the importance of families, and they are all on their way to having relatively large families.

Even though I knew my "normal" life was over, and I would forever be disabled, I was still happy and still in good spirits everyday. The nurses in the ICU were wonderful and they took such good care of me. My sister Sharon said that I had the ability to charm anyone who was around me long enough. I'm not sure if this was the case or not, but the nurses genuinely seemed to like me and enjoy taking care of me. The feelings were very mutual, because I enjoyed the nurses just as much as they seemed to enjoy me.

The thing I enjoyed most at this time were the visits from my family and friends. The outpouring of love from my friends was overwhelming and it truly sustained me at a time when I definitely needed extra support. I had a steady stream of visitors and I was never left alone. Visiting hours started at 11 AM, and I watched the clock and expectantly awaited the arrival of my mom each day. My face would light up with a smile when she walked into my room and it was wonderful to have her near me, even if we were only watching TV or sitting side by side. My mom would leave for home every afternoon around 4 PM because she still had responsibilities at home to take care of; most importantly, still being "Mom" to my two younger sisters, Laura and Chandra. I never liked it when Mom left, but I knew it was important that she have time to take care of her other responsibilities.

In the evenings is when my friends would take over. Most of my friends were in school and/or working, so they would visit me in the evenings. The visits from my friends made it bearable to be without my mom. (It would've been a lot harder for me to say goodbye to my mom every afternoon if I knew I was going to be alone all evening.) Spending time with my friends made me feel "normal" at a time when my life was quite the contrary. You are only allowed two visitors at a time in the ICU, but after the nurses got to know me and my family and friends, I was able to bend the rules and have a roomful of visitors. Friends and family made all the difference.


Tyler and Jen said...

I have really enjoyed reading these posts. You amaze me every time!

Kathe said...

You have truly inspired and touched my life Heather. You have a sweet spirit with you and just something special that makes me feel so good when I'm around you. You are truly an angel!!

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