Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don't Judge Me

(This post was written by my girlfriend, who is a student nurse)

"My mother didn't want me. I was exposed to toxins while in the womb which caused me to look like this. Thats why I depend on others for everything. I didn't ask to be a burden. If I could have, I would want to be able to run and go to college someday, maybe have my own family. But thank you for letting me live. Thank you for showing kindness to me and allowing my smile and laughter to touch your heart. Thank you for loving me. "

Recently I worked on the pediatric intensive care unit, it was my first time on the PICU, though I had worked on the regular pediatric unit previously. My shift started at 7am, I had finished receiving report by 7:15 and the 3rd shift nurse was going to help the day shift nurse and I turn the patient and then leave. I won't go into all the medical details but suffice to say the patient's heart rate dropped and the next thing I know my nurse is calling for a doctor, a crash cart and a whole team of people were pouring into the room. They did CPR for 15 minutes and then pronounced him dead less than an hour into my shift.

Death is a part of nursing, I've always known this, but this was the first time I've witnessed it, and it being my own patient, and a pediatric patient was not how I had anticipated my day starting. The boy who had just passed away was 15 years old. He had many health problems and had never led the life of a normal 15 year old, like my brother Michael. Unlike Michael he did not get up every morning and go to school, he did not run or play golf in the summertime with friends, he did not build k'nex creations and legos with his hands when he was a young boy. He was born with a condition that made him completely dependent on those around him. He had been exposed to harmful substances pre-natally and it affected him his whole life. He was cared for by his sister who was like a mother to him.

Yesterday in my maternity class we discussed among other things, genetic testing and how early it is done. It was brought up that they try to do it early enough so that way if the child has downs syndrome for example, the parents can choose to abort their child so they don't have to deal with the disability or the child won't have to live with it. It made me think about my patient who I had previously who passed away. You would think that he was a prime candidate for being aborted, I mean what kind of life did he live? And the burden it must have been to his family to care for him his whole life, in and out of the hospital etc. Yet, he was so loved.

The nurses in the room started weeping when he passed away because he had been a patient there since his birth, and many knew him and his family. Later, when I was talking with the nurses, something they all said many times was what a joy he was. He smiled and had an infectious laugh that made everyone laugh with him.  He had impacted the whole hospital. I was walking in the basement with my nurse, and we ran into doctors, residents, even the cleaning crew who were asking about him and expressed their sorrow when they heard of his death. His sister spoke of how happy she was that he was in a better place now, but she was still upset to lose him. It taught me, and I hope this may show you, that every life here has a purpose. While we may not choose that life for ourselves, we should never deny another human being the right to live. There is a purpose for every person on this earth. We may not see what our purpose is in our lifetime, we may wonder if someones sole purpose here is to annoy us, or we may be able to see the monumental things some people can accomplish during their lifetime.

 Something that appears to be a common saying in today's society is "Do not judge others". So heed your own advice America, do not judge the unborn and the potential life that they may live. Just because it's not what you would choose does not mean that you can deny them their chance to live.

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