Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beating the Odds

“I’m going in to put humpty & dumpty together again...” Linda

I can still remember that fateful day two years ago when my friend Linda called. We had just returned from a road trip of training across the province. We would stop at all the quaint garden centres along eastern Ontario’s rural back roads and pick up unusual plants and garden ornaments for our gardens and cottages. She would find the weirdest stores and we bought the weirdest things to take home to our families. She is the world’s best shopper and I never laugh as hard as I do when I am with her. Therefore, when I heard her voice I was thrilled and I started reminiscing about some of our private jokes. She did not laugh this time.

“I have breast cancer,” she said unexpectedly. I remember just sitting there and not saying a word. I was so confused. It was not possible. Linda is vitality and that is all there is to it. She is one of those rare nurses who actually takes her health seriously and is committed to a healthy lifestyle. This was wrong. I was mad.

A few weeks later Linda had her radical right mastectomy and proceeded through hell for a year of chemotherapy and radiation. Even through that year, she never lost herself or her sense of humour. She had to travel from her home 2 hours away to the Cancer Centre in my hometown for treatment. I would drop in during her treatments to check up on her. I was the one who always left cheered and inspired by her determination to kick cancer in the bloody face.

On some occasions, I would meet her and her husband the night before for dinner. She would model her wigs for me. The blond wig was her; the red was “Rediculous”. Nevertheless, she wanted to have fun with it and the red one was fun for her. As we waited to be seated one evening, in front of a long line up she loudly said, “Feel my booby”. Laughing I squeezed her right boob, “very taut” I replied. We both broke into hysterical laughter at the looks on the patrons faces. If only they had known that, I was squeezing her new mastectomy bra.

Last September to commemorate her first year of being cancer free, Linda walked in the 60 KM walk to End Breast Cancer in Toronto. She had trained all summer and finished the weekend walk through rain and sleet. She raised $10k for breast cancer research and proved once again why some people become heroes.

This morning Linda is going in for a 9-hour surgery. Not for cancer, but because of cancer. She is having a prophylactic mastectomy of her left breast. She wants to beat the odds of metastasis. At the same time, the microvascular surgeons are going to take some of her abdominal rectus muscle and reconstruct her right chest wall. They will then lypo her abdominal fat and reconstruct both breasts. With all her crazy humour she tells me, that she will finally have the “B cups” that she has always wanted. The D cups will be history.

As I look over the St. Lawrence River from my hotel window in old Quebec this morning, I am sending Linda all my positive thoughts and prayers while they put humpty & dumpty together again.

You go girl!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Celebrating National Nursing Week

Nursing has been my passion for 20 years. I cannot imagine any other life or profession. Nurses are improving clinical care, leading advocacy work and advancing technological innovation in all practice settings. Every day, we offer solutions to the challenges facing health care in Canada. Celebrate with us. Take a closer look at what we do.

Did you know?

  • National Nursing Week is celebrated around the world in conjunction with Florence Nightingale’s birthday May 12th. Florence Nightingale is considered the pioneer of modern nursing.
  • Nurses are the largest group of health-care providers in Canada, representing more than one-third of the health-care workforce.
  • There are more that 270,000 registered nurses (RNs) in Canada and of these more that 250,000 are working in Canada as nurses.
  • The average age of RNs working in Canada is 45.
  • The hospital sector annually employs nearly two-thirds (63.2%) of RNs.
  • The number of nurses who graduated in Canada in 2006 is the same number as it was in 1986. However, the Canadian population has grown by 24.9% since that time, outpacing the number of graduating nurses.

Reflections on the Hands of a Nurse-- written by Mark Darby

Let us take a moment to remember our hands. For these are no ordinary hands. These are the hands of a nurse. These hands help us do our work. These hands carry out the skills that make nursing possible.

Let us remember our hands and be grateful for what they do. For the eyes may see, the mouth may speak, but it is the hands that hold, the hands that heal, the hands that give the caring touch.

These are the hands that feel the first breath of a newborn child; These are the hands that feel the last breath of a dying one.

These are the hands that hold a family, who has just lost a loved one; These are the hands that clap for joy at the healing of a disease. These are the hands that insert tubes that bring healing to the body.

These are the hands that touch a forehead and tell, within a degree, normal or febrile. These are the hands that feel a pulse and know fast or slow, weak or strong, effective or for naught.

These are the hands that restrain the angry from self-harm. These are the hands that compress the sternum to bring life.

These are the hands that clean unspeakable places on another person's body but do so with dignity and respect which allow that person to feel like a human being.

These are also the hands of different people not just black or white, brown or yellow but all. These are not the hands of male or female but both.

Other hands may build buildings or write books. Some hands may even pull the trigger or plunge the knife but these are the hands of life.

These are the hands that take up the task passed down from so long ago—to bring healing to the sick, comfort to the afflicted, hope to the hopeless.

But these are not the hands of timid maidens who look for direction outside themselves. These are also the hands that can be clenched because sometimes something has to change. These are the hands of a nurse. These are the hands that have the privilege of being at the bedside.

For these are the hands of a nurse, the hands of a person that does a job that not everyone can do.
These are the hands of a nurse, the hands of strength compassion and love.
These are my hands.

I am kicking off Nursing Week in my shop by saying “Happy Birthday Flo”. I hope we make you proud.

Happy Nursing Week!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Year You Were Born

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” ~Rajneesh

I am celebrating my fourteenth Mother’s Day this weekend. I was discharged from hospital on Mother’s Day 1994 with a baby daughter, a set of sore tatas and a throbbing suture line you know where. While I wondered that day what I had gotten myself into, the following 14 years have proven to be the happiest years of my life.

As I reflect back on 1994, I thought I’d throw some of the events that intrigued, enraged, amused and inspired me into Dumbledore’s pensieve to share with my daughter Hilary.

1994-What was happening in the world the year you were born:

· The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect.
· Jean Crouton as we call him was Prime Minister of Canada.
· Bob Rae was Premier of Ontario.
· The
1994 Winter Olympics were held in Lillehammer.
· Figure skater
Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed on the right leg by an assailant under orders from figure skating rival Tonya Harding's ex-husband. Tonya Harding was banned from the sport and Nancy Kerrigan went on to win a silver medal at the 94 Winter Olympics.
Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of bopping off her husband, John Wayne’s bobbitt. They actually retrieved his bobbitt, secured it in the zip lock bag and sewed it back on.
· The
Church of England ordained its first female priests.
Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira died when a missile shot down their jet near Kigali, Rwanda. The Rwandan Genocide began shortly after in Kigali. Don’t let history repeat itself.
Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, was found dead. It is believed to be suicide.
· Former
United States President Richard Nixon died.
· Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis died.
· South Africa held its first fully multiracial elections. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first Black president. Learn about and from Nelson Mandela. You will be a better person for it.
Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered. NFL star O.J. Simpson and his friend flee from police in his white Ford Bronco. The famous low speed chase unfolded live on television and ended at Simpson’s house where he then surrendered to police. The Bronco chase was recreated in Shrek 2.
Israel and Jordan signed the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, which formally ended the state of war that existed between the nations since 1948.
· The
Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced a "complete cessation of military operations."
· The sitcom
Friends premiered on NBC. Thursday nights were booked for years to come.
· The
web browser Netscape Navigator 1.0 was released.
Boris Yeltsin ordered troops into Chechnya. Another lesson from history to never repeat.
· The Nobel Peace prize went to
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and, Yitzhak Rabin. I have never been able reconcile in my mind why Yasser Arafat got a Nobel Peace prize.
· Hilary Carragh was born. My greatest inspiration.

My motherhood journey has experienced cuts, bruises, bumps, sutures, a broken arm, a peanut allergy, episodes of anaphylactic shock, bags and bags of Epi-pens, school musicals, and theatre productions. We travelled gloriously through station 9 3/4 in the 7 Harry Potter books. The childhood years together were magical.

Hilary is heading to high school to find her art in September. The next several years will prove interesting as she crosses the chasm between adolescence and adulthood. I know we will survive. My mother and I did.

I thank Hilary for making motherhood fun. I wouldn’t have done it without her. I leave you with the lullaby that I had to sing to her every night when she was young.

“Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”...Mr. Magorium.

Happy Mother's Day!