My life’s work in the ICU part 1

Posted on November 13, 2012

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After I gave birth to my son, I was not sent home to mother him. Instead I was sent to the ICU.

My heart was very swollen and had lost a great deal of its pumping capacity. Because it couldn’t pump effectively, my body filled up with more than 32 lbs. of excess fluid. My blood pressure was 170/140 and my heart was frantically pumping over 150 beats per minute. I was put on nitroglycerin via an IV. It wasn’t working. 

I think I’ve effectively set the scene here. The situation was grim. I was told I just had to wait, to see if my heart would recover or if it would fail completely. I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. I wasn’t allowed to have my newborn son with me and I was crying about this when an ICU nurse walked in to fill my body with more medications that probably weren’t going to work, either.

The nurse and I started talking. She told me about her recent miscarriage. About how she was 10 weeks pregnant and how excited she and her husband had been. And how then it happened, suddenly and unexpected, as most miscarriages do. How it had been several months but she still couldn’t put it behind her. How everyone told her to get over it already, that she wasn’t even that far along. About how they told her she would forget it even happened when she got pregnant again and how scared she was to even try. 

This was a perfect opportunity to show this woman empathy and validation. This was the time to then show her how to shift that story of grief so she could move on.

And so I did, because that’s what I do. Because that’s been my life’s work for as long as I can remember and that’s what I will continue to do until I die. 

It wasn’t until later that I realized that maybe others would think that was strange.

“Why are you coaching the nurse?!” my husband scolded. “You’re not even supposed to be talking right now in your condition!”

But when something is your life’s work, it’s what you do, no matter what. 

Not because you want fame and fortune and flocks of followers but because it’s who you are.  

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