Special Christmas reflection shared

A lot of news items cross my desk throughout the year, and my goal is always to find a home for them on this community page when the time is right.

Today is that time, given we are on the doorstep of Christmas 2013.

What’s in this space is something submitted by Wintersville resident Judy Schmidt, who is active in the Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society.

It’s what I thought was a very special Christmas reflection that you readers might enjoy and appreciate.

Schmidt wrote that she had been going through some old papers at home and found something she had written at least 30 years ago as a young nurse working in the intensive care unit at the then Ohio Valley Hospital.

“I find it ironic that I just had my 63rd birthday a couple days ago, and this is written about a 60-year-old that seemed so old to me then,” Schmidt noted.

“I am thankful for my health and am so grateful for that Christmas then and for Christmas this year. This story puts perspective on the important things in life for me. I am not a writer and this may not mean anything to anyone but me. It could be that you had to be there that day. But I thought I would send it to you with the hope that it will help some young nurse working on Christmas Day as I did many years ago.”

What follows is Schmidt’s story.

Christmas day and there I was again, hearing the report in ICU. Census was low, but I was scheduled to work. “Why me?” I wondered.

I really felt sorry for myself. I couldn’t stay at home with my children. They didn’t even have a mother on Christmas Day. Every other mother in the world was home. Families were unwrapping packages and baking turkeys. Christmas tree lights were blinking, Christmas carols were playing. Grandparents were visiting, and there I sat in the ICU while my family celebrated without me. Poor me.

“On an IMV (intermittent mandatory ventilation) of 4, her color became dusky, her blood pressure increased, and her respirations were difficult. Spontaneous tidal volume dropped to 100cc. In one hour her Pco2 was 98, her PaO2 was 58. She was suctioned frequently for thick beige mucus,” the nurse reported to me.

Oh, poor me. Why do I have to listen to this on Christmas Day?

She was 60 years old and had been on a ventilator for two months. The possibility of weaning her off became dimmer with each unsuccessful try. I was so tired of listening to that beeping, buzzing machine, so tired of suctioning that tracheostomy, of giving her a bedpan, of taking her vital signs, of mixing her IVs.

Why me?

I was quiet as I did my work. She was quiet, too. Visiting hours were over. I was glad. I just wanted to finish my shift and go home.

Then I found the note…… it was beside her bed.

“Stars you put on children’s papers when they’ve done good. Why couldn’t you buy a few boxes and put them in the sky?

Poor me. When did my heart turn so cold. When did I lose my love for this human being? When did she become a punishment to me?

No one came to visit her this Christmas Day. No one called to ask how she was. There were no cards, no one sent a letter. She had no one, not even me.

I made her stars, big bright shiny ones, and I placed them on the walls and windows in her ICU room. I held her close and told her that I cared. I thanked her for a beautiful Christmas Day and for what she had given to me.