When I was a child my parents had too many kids. I became the caregiver and never knew that some of them had mental illnesses. I was too young and they were just the way my family was. I loved each and every one of them, and both my parents. But there was something about my father that I seemed to not be able to get to. I didn't understand it, just loved him. He's my dad. What can ya do? You have to love them, you are of them.
Dad was bipolar. That meant nothing to me. I went to nursing school when I was 22 and my dad had just been told he had to give up his pilots license and couldn't work for the FAA anymore because his heart was too damaged. He found that out while trying to ride a ten speed up a mountain and got out of breathe. Yep that was my dad, my hero, he took my breathe away, too. Every cardiologists in the tri-state region said he was a bad candidate for heart surgery. At 56 years of age, he was facing a death sentence and none of us had a clue what to do about it. Some of his kids weren't even teenagers yet!!
So I went to nursing school, praying the whole time he could make it till I learned something about the inside secrets of the medical institution. And find a miracle that would save him. Well I had to take a kazillion classes just to prove I was serious about school before I could even get into the nursing program so this was looking like a bad idea.
Meanwhile someone caught wind of my father's condition and decided to give him a call. He told dad that if he had this bypass surgery that he may die on the table, but if he didn't he might just live a nice normal long life. Looking at what he had without it, about 6 months to a year to live, what was the down side??
So he had the surgery,. oh it was gruesome back in the early 80's. But the hospitals' in St. Louis were on the cutting edge of science and they were doing things that other hospitals didn't even know existed much less have perfected, like dad's cadiac surgeon had. But it isn't like today where it's practically an outpatient surgery. It was brutal!!
I went on to nursing school, and what seemed to me to be a demonic temptation happened then even as such a natural little choice. I had gotten a job with an interior decorator with my neighbor friend when it was looking like I wouldn't be able to afford school and not work. I was getting paid more there as a secretary than what I'd make as a nurse with every degree available. But no, it seemed too obvious a tempation to me, money or lasting career of being a real nurse. Being something that could know how to save a life. The ideal of it and the innate manner of my life had come full circle and there was no thinking twice about it.
I was going to be a nurse at all cost.
In high school, I didn't do too well. You see I had to have this back surgery when I was 11 yrs. old. They put a bar in my back and told me I could never take Physical Education again or make any 'jarring movements' the rest of my life. Could you imagine????
I was the champion pull up and almost all track and field except high jump for some reason. But I did win all state when it came to pull ups. I remember seeing dad looking so proud and shouting above all the other voices. Dad and my big brother. Mom's face just beaming with excitement and worry and concern and , well all that motherly stuff.
And now I was to never take PE again for the rest of my life?
Well that was depressing but one night at Shriners Hospital there was a man who came in after the doctors had told me all of that. I don't know who it was, it could have been the janitor, but he saw me looking so disturbed and sad that he sat down at the end of my bed and asked me what could be so wrong that I could make a face like that.??
I told him about how I loved my ponies and track and everything physical, I told him about the steel rod and everything. Well that man told me, don't listen to those guys, I had a back made of steel and I'll be able to do more than anybody with a normal back.
Oh how happy that man made me. Perhaps it was a dream, perhaps he was an angel, I don't know. But I went from crying and depressed to laughing with the girls, Barbara, my 8 year old burn victim friend, who, you couldn't see anything but a gleaming teeth. and Samantha, the little girl who wasn't a little girl at all. She was 14 but had been born with some kind of bone disease that made it look like she was made with rubber instead of bone. She was as big as a 2 yr old and they kept her in a crib. She was also topped off with not just the bone disease but also with hydrocephalus, where there is too much water on the brain and her head was huge. But her heart was even more huge. All of these girls hearts were. We never cared what each other looked like. Once the nurses turned the lights off, we snuck to each others beds and talked and giggled and made up games to play.
Dad made it through the surgery, I made it through nursing school and then my husband did too about 10 years later. These things aren't the miracles in themselves. or the love, that comes later with other stories. But had to start somewhere. So I will get there......hold on....