Sunday, December 7, 2014

MRSA Isolation



While in rehab in Shepherd Center after my spinal cord injury, a culture of my trach grew out MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), (pronounced mer-sa), the very contagious, hard to kill superbug. My lungs had filled with infected mucus and I wasn’t able cough.

The nurses moved me into an isolation room. Every staff member donned yellow paper gowns, blue masks, latex gloves and safety glasses before entering my room.

The nurses began to “cough” me. Think one hard CPR compression only below my diaphragm along with my weak attempt to cough. It worked so we “repeated until clear”. The first thing anyone said on entering my room was, “Let’s cough.”

Every assisted cough shot searing pain to both of my shoulders, and it took a month of coughing to clear my lungs. Though still in isolation, but not coughing, my nurses came in without isolation garb. I knew who each one was by her voice.

I knew each woman’s story of life. Their loves, their hopes, their dreams and their desires. I knew who they were and that I would remember many.

Earl and I returned to Shepherd nine years later. I asked about several but only found two. One woman had cleaned my room five days a week and had achieved her desires. She had married her boyfriend and was working in the finance office at Shepherd.

The second woman, a new registered nurse, had a passion for working with persons with spinal cord injuries. She had advanced to the role of clinical coordinator for Shepherd, married and had two sons.

I remembered a few names. Jesus never forgets one.

Our Shepherd calls us His sheep and we know His voice. He knows our stories from the beginning. Our loves, hopes, dreams and desires.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14 NIV).

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

Photo Courtesy of Free Flickr Images

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Paralyzed



“Berta.”

“Berta.”

My eyelids fluttered in the bright light. Then I saw Earl leaning over me.

I tried to speak, but couldn’t.

Earl explained, “You’re in ICU at Western Baptist Hospital. You had a wreck. Your neck is broken and you’re paralyzed. You have a trach and you’re on a ventilator. You and Kari were…”

“Kari?” I mouthed in panic.

“She’s fine. She had several cuts on her head and a mild concussion. Your sister, Bobbi, is here taking care of her. It was New Year’s Day. Do you remember your dream?”

“Yes.” I had dreamed  that my cousin, Bob Wiley, was going to be in an accident on New Year’s Day on Highway 80. Earl told him about my dream and asked him to stay off 80 that day.

“Bob didn’t stay off Highway 80. Instead, he assisted the paramedics getting you out of the car after the accident.”

Was my dream wrong? No. Bob’s name was Robert Wiley. My maiden name was Roberta Wiley. And we were both there.

 “How long?” Earl read my lips.

“Seven weeks,” he replied as he lifted a limp hand in his and I saw fingers that couldn’t possibly be mine.

“Berta, you wouldn’t believe how many people are praying for you. Even the truck driver calls to check on you.”

I returned home weak and exhausted five months after the accident. I couldn’t move anything but my arms. Not my hands or my fingers. I couldn’t feel anything below my collarbones.

Depressed, I just wanted to be left alone. I withdrew from life.

Though my body could do little, God wasn’t finished molding my earthen vessel. I sat through many Bible studies, sermons and workshops without paying attention – I thought.

Over the years, God provided me with multiple opportunities to serve Him. Hearing His word – no matter my intent – and continued study prepared me to live and breathe as Jesus taught His disciples.

I am still physically paralyzed, but I am not an invalid. I am a spiritually alive child of God through the blood of Jesus.

“(Y)ou, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 NIV).

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mathew 28:19 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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Photo Courtesy of Flickr 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Controlled



At sixteen, I lived with my family of eleven in the old Standard Oil gas station on the corner of Main and N. Putnam. We actually lived in the garage.

Daddy built three sets of bunk beds for us eight kids. The four youngest shared. Daddy and Mary, my stepmother, slept on a rollaway bed. My one-month-old niece slept in a bassinet.

We had an electric stove, a refrigerator and a large storage cabinet. We placed a 4' by 8' sheet of plywood over the hydraulic lift to use as a table.

Mary opened a gift shop in the office. Everything we sold was handmade by us. I learned how to create beautiful flowers, baskets and candles. I enjoyed crocheting afghans, hats and scarves.

Some days I forgot about the smell of engine oil and grease as I created beautiful objects that people would enjoy.

That winter we heated the garage with a potbelly, wood burning stove. When the temperature dropped below freezing outdoors, Daddy moved our milk cow into the garage with us.

My sisters and I shoveled manure into buckets and dumped it in the back yard. The foul odor became another normal part of our life.

The oddity of our lifestyle separated us from our peers. The matriarchal power abused by Mary to isolate our family trained us to follow her instructions to the letter. If not obeyed her punishment was severe.

For eighteen months, because of Mary’s control, I spoke to no one outside my family.

Why? Control. Plain and simple.

We all have a desire to be in charge of our own lives and our environments. Some, like Mary, cross the line.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish leaders added many laws after they received the Ten Commandments from God. The people focused on obedience to the rules and many lost intimacy with God.

Jesus did not come to set rules or force us to obey His commandments. He offers freedom not control. Abundant living is ours to receive and share. Love one another. Pray for each other in times of lack and times of plenty.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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