Have you ever been in the presence of someone whose wisdom and strength bring you to your knees? The kind of person who has a story that overwhelms you, leaves you speachless and tearful? I had never had this experience until ten minutes ago.
Twice a day, nurses and nurse assistants change shifts. There are some that are always on Peds, and some that are part of the nursing pool meaning that there are nurses and nursing assistants that only rotate through here once. These nurses and assistants are often on night shift. Tonight I have a new nurse (new to me) named Merna. Merna came in a few moments ago after I buzzed to let her know that my Tacro pump was beeping (again. air-in-the-line again. the stuff is like champagne but less fun). Merna then mentioned that my Tacro is being changed to an oral dose tomorrow so I won't have to be bugged by the beeping all the time (so friggin' true). I told her that I had set a goal before admission about how long things would take, being taken off IV meds being one of those things, and then joked about setting goals and staying positive. Merna smiled at me and said that she had a story, a story that she doesn't share with all of her patients.
Merna said that her twin daughters will be turning 14 this November, and that 14 years ago, at the end of this October she came back to life. I was startled at this. She went on to say that 14 years ago, when she was 6 months pregnant with triplets, she was in her car when she was struck by a driver heavily under the influence of drugs and alcohol. She spent two months in a coma and was declared brain dead. One of her children did not make it through this ordeal. Merna's mother refused to take her off of life support and eventually, Merna woke up. She relearned how to walk over the course of 9 months, something she was told she would never do again. She was standing in front of P and I tonight, as tall and proud and healthy as any woman I have ever met. The most amazing, most humbling part of this story is this: Merna hung the newspaper article about the accident in her daughter's room. Not, she said, to remind them of what happened to them, but to remind them of forgivenes. Once Merna was able to walk, she went to the prison to visit the man who had caused the accident. She forgave him and asked him to learn from this and change his life. That man has and he and Merna keep in close correspondence. Merna looked at me, square in my teary eyes and said this:
"Forgive your cancer."
I will, Merna. Thank you.