Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Adoption”

Thank You Nurses

Today is National Nurses Day. In fact, the entire week, we honor the caregivers who follow the orders given by the doctors in our care, make sure that we follow those orders, and with all the care in their heart. In fact, for the last year, their career choice has exposed and challenged them to no levels ever expected when the first stepped foot inside of med school.

I often brag of the fact that in my fifty-five years of age, that I have had only three primary care doctors, my current one going on over thirty years. And any specialists I see, I am just as loyal to them. These doctors know me inside and out. I do not have to waste time, reciting my health history every time, because of a new doctor I have to see. The same can be said for the nurses that have cared for me.

I remember nearly every one of my nurses in my adulthood, and most of my childhood. My family doctor nurses, my oncology nurse (an irreplaceable team member for my cancer), and the multiple nurses that have taken care of me during each and every one of my health crisis and surgeries. I remember them all by name, and what they did for me.

Today, many of my friends in my circle are nurses.

The challenges that nurses face, I can only understate, because I truly have no idea what is a part of their average day, only what it took to care for me and my current issue. I know that in the hospital environment, they often worked at minimum, a twelve hour shift, multiple days in a row. I know that regardless if in a clinic or office setting, or in the hospitals, nurses suffer losses of those that they care for, and are needed to continue on with their care for others.

I know that many of these heroes are selfless caregivers, prioritizing their careers over their families. Most, would not do anything else with their lives.

My last interaction with nurses occurred earlier this year, and I had to deal with three of them. All of them were nurses less than three years, two of them, just over a year. Which means, in just their short career, they had to work through one of the worst crisis in over a hundred years. Welcome to nursing.

As I am prone to do, I love to talk to my nurses, because it gives me an opportunity to let them know, that I appreciate everything that they do for me (as a frequent patient especially). All three nurses were young, as I said, but they had no issue sharing their grief and sorrow at the things that they had seen over the last year, not only wishing that things had gone differently, but that others would have taken it more seriously. They did not complain about the exposure risks caring for those who denied the virus as serious. They did their job. But there is not doubt, the impact this crisis has already had on their short careers. They have already seen in one year, suffering and death that most nurses would likely experience in their entire career. And yet, these nurses have no intention of giving up. And that is what makes nurses so special. They have a gift, to care. And they do it well.

I will come across many more nurses in my lifetime of that I am sure. And it will not be just May 6th every year that I make sure that they know that I appreciate them, but every day of the year.

I’m Actually Starting To Like This

There is not a parent in the world, who does not wish that their children never got old. The innocence of laughter, finding security in knowing the parent is going to be there for them, Little Einsteins.

I am one of those parents who has left three-inch divot skid marks, being dragged into the later years of my daughters childhood, one now actually of adult age. I most certainly miss the days of teaching to ride bikes, riding kiddie rides at amusement parks, watching performances, and of course, helping with homework that I could understand (at least in the first half of their elementary school).

All this is good. I know my responsibility as a parent is to teach them, to be a role model for them, to prepare them for that day that they eventually are out on their own. But I was having so much fun. Now, it is getting serious. They have actually mentioned boys. There are conversations about after high school. The things that I say and do now, are the things that they will remember, not necessarily follow my advice, but I will be in their ears at least.

I have emphasized to my older daughter, the need to register to vote. Of all things that she does as an adult, this is the one thing that will have an impact on her, each year of her life. She was upset that she missed the last presidential race, but looks forward to the next one. But having a father who spend a short period in local politics, this was an opportunity to teach her the importance of local political elections.

While it is hard to conceive that one vote could make a difference in a national election, that one vote can make a difference for sure in a local election. And where my daughters live, there is a very important election this year. And I have told my daughter, her vote will definitely make a difference.

This was also an opportunity for me to teach her, that elections are not just about showing up and casting a vote. As she prepares to register to vote, she already has an idea of where she stands politically, and proudly, the acorn does not fall far from the tree. Anyone who has followed politics over recent years, has likely heard the phrase “disenfranchised voters.” My daughter understands that.

I do not know if she will register with a party or as a non-party, and that is her choice. I will always respect that. But the one thing that I have heard from her that is encouraging, is that she will not tow a party line if there is an issue that she does not support. Good for her, in more ways than one. This means, she is actually going to look at the candidates that she will vote for. She will want to make sure the candidate best meets her values and interests.

Her sister is not far behind, but is still trying to figure out her direction. There is concern on her part, that she does not have a “focused” interest, like many of her friends. Both of my daughters have had their share of participation in recreational activities, as I tried to find their interest and keep it. And it is a parent’s choice, which direction is taken, whether to push forward, in spite of apathy or disinterest, or to allow the child to look into something else. And that is the path that I had taken.

I explained to my daughter, that she should not be discouraged because she has not “found” her interest yet. I explained to her, that it is all about finding the right one. She has no problem with application, she gives 100% whatever she does. But it is about keeping her interest. And then I threw this curve ball at her. That I was the same way, tried all kinds of things, not having one main hobby or interest. It was not until I got into adulthood, that I discovered two things that I truly am passionate about, and one of those came about by fate. Music is 100% in my blood. I have always enjoyed writing and public speaking. And it is since my diagnosis with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that I soon realized this was what was meant to be.

In the meantime, I will keep encouraging her to keep trying anything that has her curiosity. It would not surprise me one bit, ten years from now, she has returned to something she enjoyed in her childhood, and will make it what she wants to enjoy out of life.

I do not have many memories of my childhood to compare them with the adult conversations that I have had with my parents. But you know what? I am really starting to enjoy the more grown up chats with my daughters too. Now if I could just get the one to stop making me squirm with some of the topics (an intentional act on her part).

Frustrated By Bystanderism

Like many, I watched the horrific murder of George Floyd in May of last year. And then I watched the anger, the fear, and the wreckoning of understanding that racism is still a major problem in this country, seemingly no better than decades ago, only now, massive awareness.

Like many, I have been watching the trial of the murderer who took the life of George Floyd. Like the jury, I have seen new unseen video footage, including from bodycams and other angles.

I want to be perfectly clear, I support our police and other first responders. And there is a huge difference from a cop that accidently takes the life of a suspect or in self-defense, and one that blatantly disregards human life. No matter how the defense attorney tries to deflect away the true cause of Floyd’s death with accusations against the victim and finding faults in the various witnesses including first responders and police supervision, his client, in the end, well, we all witnessed the same thing.

The average person may not understand all of the medical terminology being thrown around in this trial, but unfortunately, many of the terms are all too familiar to me, given my extensive history as a cancer survivor. I know the terms hypoxia, RCA, lactic acid, and many of the other terms, because they all deal with cardiac concerns, of which is one of the health issues I deal with.

But, besides the fact, that Floyd lay unconscious, unresponsive for as long as he did until paramedics arrived, and the murderer remained on the neck of Floyd ignoring his obligation to be responsible medically for the victim has left so many scratching their heads, what else could have been done, since the killer would not relent.

In the schoolyard, probably all of us at one time or another, had witnessed a fight on the playground. Two combatants in the middle of a huge crowd, being cheered on. Likely, one fighter a bully, the other the target. Or perhaps you witnessed someone being pushed around publicly in a restaurant. Witness a parent just wailing on a kid’s ass in a grocery store? There are three participants in an act of bullying, the bully themselves, the target, and the third, the bystander. This is the person who for whatever reason, is unable to stop or prevent the assault from going any further.

The reasons of the bystander(s) can vary from apathy, to fear and apprehension, physical, or even health issues. If you really want to understand the mind of a bystander, you could not have a better example, than those who witnessed the murder of George Floyd. Testimonies by the many witnesses who gathered at the scene, finding their words as the only method to try and stop the murder. Sure, there will be those who will claim the behavior and language only enflamed the situation. Really? Could you picture yourself at that scene? All you had to do is watch the testimonies, and you could see why there was no easy solution for them to save the life of George Floyd. We see a fight… we try to stop it, and get hurt in the process. We see a cop killing an unarmed, restrained, and unconscious human being, if we lunge at the officer, the only thing that clearly would have prevented this killing, we would have been shot by the other officers at the scene.

My friend, fellow Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor, actress, author, Annie Lanzilloto did what she does best a couple of days ago, put her feelings, the way many of us feel, into words. With her permission, I am sharing the gut-wrenching monologue and video. An advocate for many causes, these words strike a hard reality. And that there is the possibility as history is witness to, justice still is at risk to not be served in the end. Floyd will still be dead. And we will still not have an answer, how to protect others from those who are supposed to protect us.

With that, I present the text and the video about “Bystanderism, the risk of stepping in,” by Annie Lanzilloto. Annie, these words are perfect!

“It’s Good Friday, and the crucifixion is happening every day. Bystanderism is unbearable testimony in the Chauvin case. The guilt the underage witness Darnella Frazier feels, saying, “I’m sorry George.” Meanwhile without her witness and steady hand, where would we be? Frazier’s video is the gospel of the Passion. It is how we best know what happened second by second. The helplessness and rage of off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen and all the witnesses. What they have to bear is unbearable. If they rushed the officers, they would have been shot. Yes I wish we all bumrush bullies of one stripe or another—that the three Marys tackled the Roman guards and got all three guys off the crosses, that we could all be like Todd Beamer and passengers on flight 93 on 911 headed for D.C. rushing the terrorists together, that the doormen in the lobby tackled the attacker of the Asian senior citizen woman on 43rd Street as he stomped her. Me? I cut my baby teeth on my father’s kneecaps biting through his green work pants as he shook my mother by her hair in the Bronx, 1969. Baby teeth are sharp. Bystanderism. The mortal risk of stepping in, I know well, as I got kicked across the room, into the piano. The guilt the witnesses bear and do not deserve. Kitty Genovese, 1964. What have we learned. Where are we? Who are we? And the horror of the Defense message about “interfering with police business” this Passover, Easter Week, and Spring Break, the timing of the Chauvin case on the calendar when we all are home watching. There are only two kinds of people now: when you look at George Floyd, do you say, “He is me,” or “He is not me.” He is me.”

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