I want to share a story of an emotional experience and life changing moment for me. I am currently an E.R. Technician studying to eventually be a Physcians Assistant, I always thought I had been very compassionate towards all of the patients because I would listen for a minute here and there when I could, I would satify them at that very moment, however I realized when I read a devastaing article about a well know patient last night.
Jonelle Ryeal has had more visits to hospitals than majority of people her age, she is a frequent flyer in the emergency department I currently work in. She is late twenties, arms and legs are scarred from IV lines and her torso and back is no different due to numerous surgeries. She is diabetic, has high bp, has terrible vison, and to top it all off she is a 4'11" woman gaurded by two six foot prison gaurds and dressed in a bright orange gown just like the other prisoners. Because Jonelle has been in the hospital all of her life an IV usually has to be put in her neck or groin, not very comfortable. Never th less, Jonelle never seemed to be in a bad mood, she would get upset from time to time like anyone else but majority of her time was spent chatting with staff nurses and smiling ear to ear. Up until last night all I heard and read about Jonelle beside what I just listed was that she had gone to jail for purposly setting a fire that accidently killed a guy. I remember thinking to myself "Jesus I can not see her doing something like that EVER!" but it was right there on paper in the news so it was true. I saw her from then on as an unstable woman who probably is happy when she is here because shes out of jail and has a tv. I deemed her a social outcast and a loser, even though I still make awkward conversation I felt anger towards her. I didnt ask futher questions, there is no way to forgive mudering an innocent human being..........right?! WRONG!
Last night I arrived a half hour early for my shift and to pass some time until I clocked in I walked around in our breakroom and overheard one of the nurse say "omg she nuts, I dont feel one bit bad for her". I glanced over and saw she had some papers in her hand and out of curiosity I asked to read it. I skimmed through the first paragraph learning Jonelle had been granted parollel from jail and had hoped to spend the holidays home with relatives for the first time in a long time. It goes on to say "Jonelle hasent had much go right in her life for her, and like so many times before her wish to be home for the holidays was taken fater than she could enjoy any parts of it". Imediatley I had assumed that she had to have committed another crime and been sentenced back to jail. I felt sad for her but I read on only because I was interested in the details of her latest crime. The next paragraph, although an obvious possibility, threw me off. The article stated that hours after being home, Jonelle became very sick and as she has been so many times in the past, ended up in another hospital. This time though things weren't the usual dyalysis treatment or weakness due to her poor health. Doctors discovered she was in end stage kidney failure and that she only has hours to live. Fortunatly, her aunt donated one of her kidneys to buy some time, but that too will begin to clot and die and once it does there arent any more options. Jonelle's prognosis is worse than poor, there is no chance of her living more than a few years. Unfortunatly, its never easy to hear of someone young being told of there certain impending death but I was already aware that her future was more than likley going to be cut very short. Jonelle also has absolutley no IV access left, they are administering everything through a port that was placed inside an artery located in her spinal column. Feeling pity remembering how happy she was before and now thinking of the pain shes suffering kept me from putting the article down. The remainder of the article tells the facts of this womans life, the suffering she has gone through most of us would find to be overwhelming and most would have given up hope far long before she will.
Jonelle was an adult when I met her, I knew her current issues but never knew her as a child. By 10 it was realized that she was sick, her kidney function was not so good, at 14 shes diagnosed a diabetic and with hypotension. Due to the fact that she was untreated she also becomes legally blind and her poor kidney function was now kidney failure. Such health issues alone would devistate a child at that age however in addition Jonelle had been in foster care since infancy, no one ever adopted her or even fostered her for very long, she came and went through 20 houses, 20 chances for someone, some family to want her. Imagine first not having parents and living through the foster care system, now imagine your entire childhood searching for a family or parents who love you enough to want to help you grow up. Jonelle got her hopes up twenty times and twenty times she was told she wasnt wanted, her health was too much for any family to handle. On her 18th birthday Jonelles time in foster care had run out, she was sent out on her own, and with not one friend in the whole world she had no other choice than to live homless on the streets and frequent local hospitals when sick.
Eventually, she became to sick to discharge back to the streets. With very little options she was placed in a rehab for the mentally challenge, drug addicts, eldery, pretty much an apartment building for anyone who was unable to live on there own. Jonelle absolutly has to have weekly dyalysis for her kidneys or she will become extremly ill and could very quickly die. One night she arrived in her building a half hour after snacks were given out and being diabetic it also was a threat to her life if she didnt eat. She had asked for something, anything at all so she could sleep without her sugar going too low. She was denied any food by a caretaker who had been arrested and charged with assault in the past and she was thrown outside and locked out in the middle of the night, again. It was the middle of winter and that night the tempurature was below freezing.
I want to pause here and just ask you to really try and see yourself living this life up until now. Picture knowing nothing but rejection, and news of you failing health, Jonelle is only appx 22 years old at this time. Its hard to really imagine it because it is so devistating. What do you honestly think would have gone through your head at this moment. Right after the weekly 6hrs of sitting in a chair getting dialysis, that you will have to continue to recieve weekly for the rest of your life. Asking for a snack not because you are hungry but because it is of vital importance, without it there is almost a certain possibility of confusion and a good chance of death. Then being refused any food, and rejected like so many times before, this time onto the freezing cold street. Standing all alone, freezing, and realizing, for im sure isnt the first time, that not one single person wants any parts of you.
Jonelle in a fit of rage set the building on fire, even though there was people inside she never expected them to not get out in time, she had no intention to hurt anyone. In my opinion if no one cared on bit about me ever why the hell should I give a crap about them? Anyway, an elderly man became trapped and devestaingly was killed in the blaze. A week later Jontue was arrested while recieving dialysis.
She is constantly ill and during her trial she had a 102 fever, she has fevers like this a few times a month. She sat with her head back, clearly uncomfortable, but you could tell shes used to being in constant pain. She was charged and sent to jail, with what exactly and for how long I am unsure. A few years went by and she lived in jail with the usual frequent hospital trips. I was hired two years ago to work in an emergency room as a technician for experience while going to college for a degree in medicine. Our hospital had a contract to treat prisoners, and it wasnt long before I met Jonelle. She was nice, her voice was that of a childs, small too she made me laugh. She was an excellent patient, cooaprative and understanding. She never gave any trouble and when she was wheeled in she was smiling and waving, when she was getting pushed to her hospital room she was smiling and waving, and when she was discharged she was smiling and waving, and she thanked us, she thanked us every single time and reminded us shell been seeing us again soon. I couldnt understand why she would be so happy to have to go through all those painful tests, but the thing was she accepted everything she was given and looked at life with outrageously large amounts of optimism, unlike anyone I have ever met.
Until I read her entire story it bothered me that the nurses would moan and complain when she came to be treated because it was going to take time out of there day to try and get an IV in her, and because she was so much difficult work for them. She would smile and wave they would say hi and then turn and not even in a whisper make annoyed remarks. Now that I am aware of how many times people rejected this young woman due to difficulties with her health that are a result of a fault that is not her own, health issues that she has to deal with 24/7 365days a year, I am absolutley enraged at the fact that our nurses are so absolutley self centered that they make her wait to be triaged because they are busy arguing who will take her as thier patient and have there one day, not even a whole day actually, I apologize they have a few hours, of one day, of one week, in one godamn month outta all the years they are going to spend on this earth because fortunatly for them they were cared for in child hood an blessed with good health, god forbid there inconvienenced during work. I must have been misinformed when someone told me I should go into healthcare because I love to help people, and people who want to care for others go into the medical field....apparentley thats untrue. Upon finishing I annoced that I was touched by the article and deeply saddened, I stated that I felt sorry for the cheerful girl we all knew. The reaction that was returned was first laughter, then one nurse says "I don't feel bad for her at all, foster care doesnt give you the right to murder, babe ruth was a foster child". It took everything in me to not smack the shit out of this woman, I wanted to hit her so hard she flew across the room, and to make matters worse like teenage girls as soon as another person was in agreeance with michelle they all followed one by one like dominoes, as they always do to fit in with the other middle aged grown dumbasses.
In a twelve hour shift I usually have to work with a number a patients who have issues that at first glance make you want to not care. The homless smell and if they are drunks they do not cooperate, the drug addicts are relentless in getting what narcotic/script they abuse, or if they come in on drugs even when there airway is in danger and unless antidote is administered they are threatened with death they will still refuse the antidote because they do not want there high to be taken away. Then there are the depressed(the whiner/complainer/never happy.....no really?) anxious(Everything is perfectly fine beside the fact that they are freaking out about dying and they will ask for reassurance repeatitivley) paranoid(Afraid of something they believe is there, but in realitiy there is not) schizophrenic (Also can be paranoid, they have unusual thoughts that to us do not make sensce and tend to ramble nonsence) and bipolars (They could think you are the best until you do one little thing that gets on there nerves, whatch out because they do punch at random, or vice vers mean than nice). Truth is you only just met this person, and despite all of there medical history or what they have been able to tell you about themselves in the few hours they have been in the er (which if you ever visited or worked in an er, you hardly have any time to be in a room chatting) you hav no idea who this person really is, or what happened to them. There is a reason they are unlike us, even if they are faking for attention, you should try your hardest to put yourself in thier position even if the only thing you know is they are intoxicated, peed themselves and were found lying on the street, just imagine yourself being them, how would you handle it? Could you?
Aside from the worst of the worst we also should be aware of others around us everyday and thier feelings. If we only took two seconds before cracking a joke about someones choice of clothing or fake hair, or horrible love life, and think how you would feel if your embarrassing secret was surfaced for the amusement of others, maybe less of us would go through with saying something hurtful just for a laugh. We can never predict the effect our words have on others. Consider an instance where an overweight co worker jokes openly about thier issue with weight, this could be there way of coping, you may laugh but dont join in, instead say something nice towards them, you don't want to find out they went off the deep end and the last thing you did was insult them. In high school I worked in a deli with a few other kids, we all got along, one day one of the boys made a crack on the other boys glasses, not knowing his mother couldnt afford to get his contacts this month because his father was extremley ill and the medical bills were sky high. The boy was already nervous due to the fact he was toutured for his glasses in elementry school the other child had no idea about any of this however that didnt matter it was all the kid with the glasses needed to be fed up.....he hung himself after work that day, his mother found him after returning from the hospital where she had just signed her husbands DNR. Its been ten years and I havent heard or seen from any of them until a year and a half ago the wife was in the ed, now diagnosed with severe depression, she self mutilates and abuses alcohol daily. Hours later when she sobered up enough to have a conversation she told me she doesnt want to go on with out her family and she is angry she doesnt have the courage to comit suicide, she tried drank so much that paticular night because she was going to be evicted from her home. I very shortly after was informed from a neighbor and co worker that she had spotted her with a 40oz beer slouched on a bench at the bus terminal fithy and reeking of urine. If you met her at that lowest moment of her life what would your first impression be? Think about this please and really work towards making us friendlier people, it could change the world if we just showed that we cared, even just a teensy tiny bit.
Well thats all I have to say, Please think before you speak.