Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In the presence of great wisdom

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.


  1. Laura: An amazing story. Her challenge "forgive your cancer" is a hard one. You have proven that you can handle everything that comes to you and this will be no exception. Keep smiling (when you feel like it), keep optomistic (when you can) and pretty soon this will all be behind you. You keep all of us smiling. Love you, Nan

  2. Wow. What a powerful story and what a strong suggestion she made to you. You asked, "Have you ever been in the presence of someone whose wisdom and strength bring you to your knees?" My answer to that is, every time I read a new blog post from you. I am not trying to get all mushy here, but facts are facts. After reading your blogs, I realize that I know nothing and the problems that I have and freak out about are inconsequential. These blogs of yours are a testament to your wisdom and strength. You have such a way with words and I really think that when all is said and done, you need to write a book or something and help other cancer patients with your story. You could even call the book, "Forgiving Cancer." Thank you for everything you are teaching us about living.

    Love, Brett

  3. Misty over this post. Loving Merna -- bowled over by her story and her wisdom. Don't think it's a coincidence that she's your nurse. I was thinking about how you were such a grounding part of my practice (I could always look over at you and see how to do something or exchange a look when something was hard for me that would help me out) and how your blog is doing the same thing. Thank you. Much love!

  4. You are my Merna.


    And to add to what Brett said, I think you should keep her quote intact and call it, simply, "Forgive Your Cancer." Maybe it needs a tagline of your creation, though, because you'll certainly have words of wisdom and wit to add to that. But yes, Brett, spot-on idea; I'll keep saying so because I know it to be true, you have even higher places to take these words and lessons of yours down the road. Right now, your captive blogger audience *slash* loved ones are grateful for the gift that is Hollow Me Out, for your continued progress, stunningly beautiful and unflappable spirit, and the following, in no particular order: morphine; grilled cheese of days past; Carnation instant breakfasts; the promise of fresh fruits and veggies on your plate; Phil; your parents (and GO, MOM for being your right-hand woman); scarves and the wonderful stories that go with them; inspirational and nurturing NURSES; doctors who dig jazz; yoga; art and music therapy; trees of life, especially the one you continue to cultivate; bald-ass heads; a friend who looks hot with a bald-ass head (can everyone really say they have one of those?); fresh new clothes ordered online in which to dress your new cells; and lastly, for now, a certain 35-year-old male resident of Earth.

    WE LOVE YOU. I am confidently speaking for everyone who reads this. And anyone who may not know you yet, but who will, who'll love you and learn from you someday. Through all of this, you've given so much to so many, and that, my friend, is REMARKABLE.

    I hope it isn't too much pressure. :)

    I miss you and go nary an hour without thinking of you. All my love, girlfriend!!!!!!!!!

  5. ohmy GOD. all that "j" said. yes. all that amanda, ken, nan, and brett said. YES. i'm overcome with tears,... of joy, of power, of love, of hope, of "wow, this is young woman is in MY LIFE right now"...., you do that "merna" thing for all of us, laura. daily. you just don't know. love always.

  6. Amen! Blessed is the Universe that put Merna in your presence - you are surrounded by angels.
    Big hugs!

  7. Ya know, I am a big believer in the idea that we get back from the universe what we put out into it. You are a source of warmth and inspiration to many others, and so you receive these things in return. Thank you for sharing Merna's story, and for sharing yours as well.
    <3 Dolly

  8. I am typing this and hoping that I am not making any mistakes because I currently cannot see through the tears in my eyes. What an inspiring lady Merna is!! She reminds me of someone, hmmmmm.....oh yes YOU!!!