Annie, Annie- Wake Up!

* Disclaimer- This post is published based off the events of how I remembered them occurring.

July of 1986 started off great for me.  I was a 7 year old dressed in a blue dress as I walked down the aisle of my god mother's wedding.  A few days later I was swimming and splashing around the lake our family would visit each summer.  And then we would finish our summer adventure with a visit to both sets of grandparents at their respective family farms in southwest Iowa.  It was a great beginning to summer because we were spending some quality time with family that we rarely saw since moving to Wisconsin.

About a ten minute ride outside of town, the gravel road led to my maternal grandparent's house.  That's where I was napping on the couch when I recall grandma asking if I would like a hot dog for lunch.  When I said "no," that should have been an indicator something was wrong.

"Annie, Annie.  Wake up!"

One year later back on the farm!

One year later back on the farm!

To me the voice was faint, but loud enough to catch my attention, for an extremely brief moment.  It was my grandfather trying to wake me up.  We were in the ambulance headed to a hospital 30 miles away.  Apparently shortly after I said no to the hot dog, I began having a seizure.  When they called 911, it was suggested that to save time, my uncle drive me from the farm to town where the ambulance would be waiting for us.

Upon arrival, a spinal puncture was administered.  Bacterial spinal meningitis was the diagnosis.  For the first eight out of the total 14 days I was in the hospital, I lived in an oxygen tent.  I was floating in and out of consciousness due to a high fever.  Nurses fed me tylenol, which helped for short periods of time.  But then the fever would spike again to over 100 degrees.  Eventually it subsided and I was no longer in isolation with the big bubbled tent.  The entire staff took great care in making sure I was as comfortable as a seven year old could be under these circumstances.  

Patient care at every level.

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by nurses my entire life.  Through them, I earned by Girl Scouts First Aide badge.  I learned what it means to hold someone's hand with care when it is literally a life or death situation.  I learned what it means to show up even when it means your family might sacrifice to help others.

Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system.  It is important that organizations do everything possible to make sure they have all the resources they need to do their job.  That includes, pay, retirement, sick and vacation time and quality control within their place of work.

What I do have a problem with is when nurses say patient care is their number one concern but all of the following happen-

  • leaving their post an hour before a strike is about to happen
  • use of blow horns at all hours of the night so an eight year old cancer patient can't sleep through the night
  • calling in sick on the day they know they are supposed to be part of an operating room surgery procedure because they are currently working with out a contract just to make the hospital scramble and become backlogged

Patient Care.  That should be everyone's number one priority.  If I hadn't been a priority in 1986, who knows if I would even be here today.