Dear Ms Walsh

I am NOT a political person.  And this is NOT about to be a political post.  This is, however, a reply to a statement made by a politician.  Rather than reply with my first thoughts, I have let myself stew for a couple of days.  My mind has run the full gamet of my thoughts and I have come back to the fact that this woman must be incredibly lucky.  Yup.  She’d have to be.  To have never once had a need for a nurse to care for her.  But if in fact, she has only ever encountered the .001% of nurses that don’t care about their patients, then she is perhaps the most UNlucky person in the world.  She’s one or the other.  Because I can’t believe that someone who had encountered the 99.999% of nurses who are absolutely phenominal could ever make the kind of stupid and extremely callous and painful statements she has made.   I have decided to mail her the following letter.  It will go in the mail this week.  (Again, keep in mind- I don’t DO politics, people.)

Dear Ms Walsh,

Hello.  I’d like to introduce myself.  I’m a mom of three from San Antonio, Texas.  I’m a preschool teacher.  I just wanted to send you a letter and say that right now I’m sure you’re receiving a ton of mail from all over the country.  Probably a lot of craziness.  Who knew the words you said could cause so much nationwide commotion, right?  Well, I just wanted to encourage you.  Lift you up a bit through all of the nastiness you may be hearing, by sharing a miracle with you.

I wanted to tell you my story.  Well, it’s not really mine- it’s my daughter’s.  It’s a pretty long one, but I’ll summarize somewhat.  Our little Mirielle (“Elle”) was born last February, right on time and perfectly healthy.  When she was 10 1/2 weeks old, she got RSV.  She ended up in our Children’s Hospital here- CHOSA.  She just kept struggling, and after a couple of weeks ended up with a staph infection from her feeding tube (through no fault of the hospital staff).  Her lungs were super, super weak.  When the highly trained staff went to intubate her, her lungs collapsed, and she “coded.”  They were able to bring her back.  She ended up needing six chest tubes, and the team of highly trained medical personnel determined that she needed to be placed on ECMO life support.  (It’s a machine that basically acted as her lungs for her- her blood was pumped by her heart through tubes into the machine, where it was oxygenated, then pumped back into her tiny little body, circulated back to her heart, and then the process started all over again.  Constantly.  For eight and a half days.)  

During that time, she had not one but TWO nurses by her side- CONSTANTLY.  One was managing the computer for the pump, monitoring every number and never waivering from the screen- for a full twelve hour shift- and the other was managing Elle’s every personal need.  And she had a lot.  She was receiving a LOT of medications through various IVs and ports and there were many numbers to monitor on her screens, not to mention she needed diapers changed, and her eyes didn’t always stay closed because she was so heavily sedated, so she needed eye gels applied and her lips would get very dry so she needed cream on them, and lotion to keep her skin from cracking.  Plus, she had to be rotated every couple of hours to keep her tiny body from getting bed sores.  So they attended her every need.  Constantly.  And they sang to her.  And they played her music and talked to her, and made beautiful artwork by painting her hands and feet- subtly telling us as parents that they realized fully that the bloated tiny little blob on their table wasn’t just some doll, but actually there really was a little girl trapped inside.  Our little girl.  Our precious baby.

They loved her and they cared for her.  At the same time, next door, a little guy passed away.  He never had any visitors that I had seen.  He had his sweet nurses.  When they weren’t doing their nine million tasks, one of them would be just sitting by his side, holding his hand.  Or singing to him.  And then he was gone.  When I saw the gurney come to get him, I wept.  Not for his parents, wherever they were.  No, not for them, but rather, for his nurses.  Because they loved him when he had noone.  Just as they loved Elle, who had us, they loved him.  He didn’t go alone.  Because that’s what nurses do.  

I would venture to say that if a nurse happens to have a spare minute, they might be found playing cards, sure- with a patient whose parents had to step out and that little girl just needed to not be alone when she woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep.  Because even twelve year olds get scared.  Or maybe they might be found playing cards with the elderly veteran down the hall whose wife passed away two years ago, and his kids can’t stay at night because they have kids of their own, and he just can’t sleep.  Or maybe you might even find a nurse in a hospital room playing a quick round of go fish with a little boy whose mommy is sick and he’s scared and daddy just had to take a minute to himself.  Because trust me, if you can find a nurse anywhere in this country playing cards, he or she probably hasn’t eaten lunch, or gone to the bathroom, because that game of cards is more important than his or her own personal needs.

You see, one day I happened to overhear a conversation that one of Elle’s nurses hadn’t had lunch the day before, and I realized that was because she had never left Elle’s side.  So I made a mention to the Sister who was present and helping our family to please make sure that the sweet nurse had someone to cover her break so she could eat lunch that day.  She was so concerned with my baby’s health that she didn’t even think to eat lunch.  And that’s the NORM, Ms Walsh, not the exception.  Nurses all over this country, every single day, they fight hard… and yes, they lose some.  But then some, like Elle, get better!  They go home and they become the reminder to those nurses of why they do what they do.  They help patients on the brink of death.  And they care!!  They get so close emotionally to each and every single one.

Elle is a miracle story- she shouldn’t have made it.  But she did!!!  And she had so many nurses along the way who fought for her health.  I encourage my older kids to pursue their interests, and I will with her as well, but I sure hope she grows up wanting to be a nurse.  Because I don’t think there is any nobler career choice she could ever make, and what better way for her to pay back the life she’s been given than by helping others- by being a nurse.

So please, Ms Walsh, as you face backlash from all over the country, take this letter as the encouragement it is meant to be!!!  Your statement was NOT entirely wrong.  Nurses might play cards.  You just were entirely wrong in your implication that they sit around and play cards with each other and place bets and have tons of free time.  Because free time isn’t in their vocabulary.  There aren’t enough nurses to properly care for everyone in most places.  And they have so much to do they can’t possibly get it all done during their shift and frequently work way over just to get everything done.  But be encouraged – if you or one of your loved ones is ever in the hospital, you don’t have to worry about the level of care you/they will receive!  And if you want to bring a deck of cards, one of your nurses might just skip lunch to play a quick game with you.

Please look at the photos I’m including and smile.  Know that nurses here in Texas did more than just their jobs, and that actually one of her nurses has since moved on and is now serving the citizens of your great state!  That’s right- you’re blessed right now with one of the most fabulous people Texas could send to you!  Treat her kindly, and with respect, I beg you.  Here are some pictures from when Elle was in the hospital, and then here she is now- thanks to nurses.

May God bless you to never have to experience having a loved one being cared for our nation’s finest.  But if you do face the inevitable, I pray you experience a change of heart as you see their dedication and their love.  God Bless.

Christy Hinnant,
Mom of Mirielle

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elle during and after ecmo
These photos show her on ECMO, then a few days after being taken off the machine, when she turned three months old, and then on May 22, 2018, when she came home.
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Easter, 2019 – a year later
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Easter, 2019 – a year later

A Letter To Myself – in the past

Dear Younger Me,

There’s so much I could say.  You’re only a year younger than me right now.  But there is so much coming ahead of you.  Treasure every moment.  There is going to be fear you’ve never felt.  There is going to be joy that you can’t imagine.  There will be sorrow beyond belief.  It will be a rollercoaster ride.  But there is nothing I will say to try to prevent any of it from happening.  I won’t tell you what it is, or how it happened.  I won’t tell you.  But I will say that in the end, it will all be worth it.  You will grow closer to your kids than you could ever imagine.  You and Cody will have a relationship that is so much deeper than comprehension.  Your faith will be tested, and will be found to be strong.  You aren’t without fault.  You will YELL at God.  Both in your head, and literally out loud.  You will be scared.  You will be angry.  You will lose a LOT of sleep.  But you will learn lessons I couldn’t begin to outline in a simple note.  It will be worth every moment of agony.  It will be worth every single sleepless night.  It will be worth the PTSD that is left as a shadow.  Because you can’t truly know the joy of life without tasting the fear of death.  I wouldn’t want to do it again.  I pray you never relive this past year in any form.  But if we do, I know from the year I’ve just come through that we will survive because God will carry us.  He will carry you high on His shoulders this next year.  Because there will be times you can’t even begin to walk.  And I promise you, He will never, ever let you down.

-Your self, one year in the future

This note was inspired by the following song:
Dear Younger Me
by MercyMe

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me,

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

I See You

I see you.

You’re the friend who lost her baby too soon and lives daily in agony.  While I can’t fathom your pain, I can imagine your grief.  I see you.

You’re the friend who had a miscarriage last week.  You walk around trying to live life as though nothing ever happened, but I feel you pain and I know the depth of your grief.  Some who find out will say, “at least it was early,” as if that somehow makes it less of a loss.  Trust me.  I know.  I see you.

You’re the friend who has a baby up at all hours of the night.  You’re so thankful to be home after five painfully long months in the NICU, but you really just. want. sleep.  And it’d be so nice if a nurse could just cover this feed for you… but oh yeah, you’re at home now.  I feel the depth of your thankfulness, and yet I also know how very hard it is to adjust to life after the hospital.  I see you.

You’re the friend whose husband didn’t turn out to be the man you thought he was.  He abused your adopted children and in the process, ripped out your heart slowly in a way you never thought he could possibly.  I can’t begin to fathom the depth of your pain, or your sorrow over all that was lost.  I see you.

You’re the friend who would deeply love to be loved.  You try to hide it by laughing it off and saying you’ll be single forever, but I know.  I see it in your eyes.  I would dearly love to find you your Mr. Right.  You pour your heart and soul into your nephews, but I know you would have loved to have been a mother to your own little motley crew.  I see you.

You’re the friend who pulled her son from public school as a last ditch effort to not lose him completely.  He has so. many. unique. needs.  He is an amazing kid, but you often don’t know who he is.  You’re giving him your everything in an attempt to save him – from himself.  And to save his siblings from him, too.  I see you.

You’re the friend who just started sharing your knowledge online one day, and suddenly became a “sensation” in certain circles.  Now, your entire life is critiqued and judged by women you’ve never met, and you feel you have to justify everything you do and don’t let your kids do.  I have no idea how many emails and messages you receive on a regular basis, but I know it has to be overwhelming, all while you’re just trying to be a mom who helps her kids the way they need to be helped, and makes some money while doing it.  I see you.

You’re the friend who moved hundreds of miles away and is now dealing with the fallout of the world of friendship – few are for forever… most are just friends for a time.  And it hurts when people you thought were for forever, are actually just for a season.  I’m still here.  And I see you.

You’re the wife of a pastor in a tiny remote town, just trying to do what God called you to do.  You’re an awesome mom, but you’re just plain lonely.  You long for in-person friendship and fellowship from other women who can relate to you and don’t avoid you because you’re the pastor’s wife.  I so deeply wish our long-distance friendship could be the in-person relationship that you so desperately need.  I see you.

You’re that teacher at the car drop-off line at my daughter’s school.  I don’t know what grade you teach, but I know your well-groomed look.  You’re dressed to the nines and hair curled just so.  You’ve got cute makeup and an empty left ring finger.  When I rolled down my window and told you you looked nice today, I saw something else, too.  You almost cried.  You’re hiding something inside.  And I’m so glad I said something.  You told me I made your day, and I’m so glad I took those two seconds to really see you.

Maybe you’re a mom who is battling cancer, or a mom who just started a second job.  Maybe you’re single, or maybe you’re married.  Maybe you’re just out of college, or going back in your 50s because you never really followed your calling.  But whoever you are, whatever you are dealing with in life, I see you.  I feel your heart longing to be loved.  I feel your heart desperate to break up with fear.  I know the weight of your worry.  I know your need to be beautiful.  And you are, sweet sister, you are.  You might not fit into a six or even a sixteen, but either way, you are exactly who God made you to be.  And I see you.  Do you take the time to see others for who they are?  Do you allow yourself to feel their pain?  It’s overwhelming.  But it’s beautiful.  God gives us friends to help pick each other up when the going gets rough, and to encourage us that God will never leave us, either.  Because most importantly, He sees you.  And He is your King.  He is your Father.  He is your Abba (Daddy).  

Life After the PICU

Haven’t read about our hospital journey this spring?  You can still visit our CaringBridge page any time here.

 

I haven’t written a blog post in a long time.  Not because “nothing” is going on, but because I just don’t have anything to say.  Not because there is nothing to say… but because there’s too much, and not really all the right words to express it.  I’m not political.  I didn’t used to get into “current events,” and now I really don’t.  Perhaps because my world goes so much deeper than whichever politician someone chooses to bash at the moment.  Because I have been changed.  Because I still think about the kids and the parents and the nurses and the doctors every single day.  I wonder who is there now, and what they are going through.  I wonder if there is some small way I could help.  And I feel.  Deeply.  Madly.  I love my kids more than I could have ever possibly before.  I treasure every. single. moment.  I find myself wishing there weren’t so many fights, of course.  I find myself wishing I didn’t have to discipline, sure.  Not every moment is perfect and treasurable.  But yet, it IS treasurable – simply because I have them.  All three of them.  Here with me on Earth.   Every moment is a blessing – a gift that I’ve somehow been granted.

They are growing and healthy and ALIVE.  And I now know what that means.  What is REALLY means.  Because I feel the pain of those who have lost.  And I know how easily I could be one of them.  So I stand beside them and I pray for the right words to bring comfort.  I pray for the knowledge of when to be silent, and when to speak.  And I treasure the little moments on their behalf.  Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder what life would be like if April and May had never happened.  Would I really soak it all in?  Would I resent dirty diapers and having to teach her the difference between right and wrong?  I think of all the friends I have now and the amazing people whom I have met that I wouldn’t even know existed.  And I think of all the work God has done in my heart and how He has strengthened my faith, and I can begin to see a glimpse of the purpose in all of it.  And I am finally to the point where I’m grateful.  Grateful for the pain.  Grateful for the terror.  Grateful for the countless nights of lost sleep.  Grateful for life.  

So when I see someone ahead of me in traffic cut someone off because they almost missed their exit, I wonder what is happening in their life.  I wonder if they even realized they cut someone off, or if in the fog that is their world, they just went where they needed to go because they are robotically going through the motions and just barely surviving moment to moment.  I’ve been there.  And I wonder how many people I may have cut off in traffic without even seeing them.  How many accidents my angels prevented  – how many cracks in the sidewalk I never tripped on, how many playground mishaps the bigs never had… because God was working on a much bigger plan in my life.  

No, it isn’t that I’ve had nothing to write.  It’s just that right now I’m seeing a bigger picture than I’ve ever fathomed, and it’s hard to see the world like other people.  You could say God gave me a teensy tiny nibble of a morsel from an apple from the tree of knowledge, and I’m still processing it.  He’s still teaching me from it.  He decides when we’re ready for that knowledge, and sometimes I still don’t think it’s fair that I had to take that nibble.  I don’t think it’s fair that mamas and daddies have to go through such immeasurable sorrow that we have witnessed in friends.  This life is certainly not fair.  But I’m starting to maybe get a glimpse of the truth – that the purpose behind each and every moment for each and every person is so much bigger than we’ll ever comprehend.  

I guess it’s just that my life right now is so much bigger than who is or isn’t president, or what some policy is on something, or what happened in someone’s past that does or doesn’t make them eligible for a job.  Not that those things aren’t important, but right now my brain is processing at so much deeper of a level that I just can’t focus on that stuff.  I have three kids and a job and medical bills that roll in every month like clockwork.  I have a house to keep decent for realtor showings and the stress of trying to find a new place for our family.  I need to help get homework done and communication journals signed and books read and letters learned and pen pal letters written and bottles made and diapers changed, oh and chase a very mobile baby.  Those things?  They are everything.  And yes, I’m thankful for those mundane, exhausting tasks.  Because they remind me I’m alive and that He has placed me here with a purpose.  They wear me out.  They wear me thin.  They threaten to shift my attitude on a daily basis.  But something stops me every day and causes me to pause and realize my focus.

I’ve lived on the mountain.  I’ve been in the valley.  And right now I’m relishing the climb.  It’s hard work.  Every day is a different struggle with new rocks to step over and boulders to crawl across.  I know that this climb back up the mountain is not my last climb.  We’ll fall down again.  But just like every time before, He will pick us up and set us right, and begin the climb again.  We don’t make this climb alone.  And we won’t make the next one alone, either.  

 

 

The Waiting Game

One of my least favorite things to do in life is wait.  It begins when we’re children, just dying for Christmas to finally arrive.  And it never really stops, does it?  We’re always anxiously awaiting something.  Positive things – like weddings, anniversaries, graduations, the birth of a new baby, surprise parties we’ve been planning for months.  But also negative things – like waiting for blood test results, waiting for a friend to be healed or to pass, waiting to hear if you failed an exam.

Waiting is hard.  It stretches us beyond our normal lengths.  It grows us in ways we might not prefer to grow.  It builds anticipation, and then often lets us down.  Waiting.  Frankly, it sucks.

We live in a society that wants everything instantly.  We have fast food drive thru, and now we even have the ability at multiple establishments to order our food on our phones so it will be ready when we arrive.  Because waiting for even five minutes is just. too. difficult.

And I’m guilty of the same thing.  I don’t like to wait.  I appreciate a good, fast moving drive thru line.  I have been known to do those mobile orders ahead so I can just run in and take two seconds and not really connect with any one person more than that.

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But yet, that is not the life we are called to live.  I’m feeling a lot of conviction over that lately – my lack of ability to wait.  The Justin Graves Band song “Wait for the Lord” is playing itself like a broken record in my mind, and ironically, I haven’t even listened to it in a couple months.  Conviction.  God knows how to get thru to us… He really does!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 are some very famous verses.  Even secular artists refer frequently to these prophetic words.  And yet, we rarely really take them to heart.  Have you ever REALLY sat down and read those words?  It’s a run down of what science calls “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Thank you, Mr. Newton… for reframing what the Bible had told us generations before.  Both Solomon and Newton were extremely wise men, who were absolutely right.  Our problem today is that we want everything quick – without taking the time to do the opposite.  Sometimes there is a time to wait.

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Right now I have a horrendous amount of fire ant bites on my feet.  That wait – between getting the bites, and the pain and itching and burning two days later – that wait was bliss.  I knew the pain was coming.  But I had these few moments of fleeting hope that maybe this time… maybe THIS time they wouldn’t hurt.  Well, then, this morning, here is that pain.  The old familiar burn and itch.  And now the other waiting begins – the waiting for the burn and itch to go away.  Because it will.  I know that this pain is only temporary.  It won’t last forever.

Waiting between our two children for that positive pregnancy test… and the ultrasound to confirm a healthy life.  That was a hard wait.  Twice we got part of the equation.  And twice our hearts were broken when there was no healthy life.  But we waited.  And in that waiting, I admit I did a lot of fighting with God.  I told Him all about my time table.  And then, suddenly, in what now seems like just a short little time, we were pregnant.  And this time it was our Grayson.  He was healthy.  He was kicking early, and I suddenly had this great reminder that God is in control, and He has a very special plan – and timing! – for our lives.

Flash forward.  Suddenly, that little baby we waited SO LONG (not really!) for is THREE years old!  And he doesn’t like to wait.  For anything.  He whines.  He cries.  He pulls out his Mr. Sass and uses that attitude toward anyone who makes him wait – for anything.  Heck, he’ll even get in front of me and stop when I’m walking and don’t pick him up fast enough.  Because he is a child.  Selfish, and unable to wait on my timing.  He doesn’t understand when my answer is “no.”  He certainly doesn’t understand when my answer is “not right now.”  And yet, how much the same I am with God!

Watching Gray in his frustration, and then going back and reading the words of King David in many of his Psalms, I know that waiting is hard.  It always has been, and it always will be.  It’s not easy.  And yet, we are called to wait on the Lord.  We are called to wait, to trust, and also to hope.  And honestly, I think we are called to do those three things not because they are easy, but rather because they are difficult.  They build character.  Leaning on faith in the unknown is difficult.  It’s hard.  It’s AGONIZING!!!  But in the end, we will have learned, and grown just a little bit stronger.  Our faith in God will be enhanced.

These two verses from Psalm speak so much to my heart right now.  I see the humanness of David, and yet, look at all God was able to do in and through his life, and through his descendants!  How much He can do through me, when I put my hope in His words!

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And then, the song comes to me, “Soar” by Meredith Andrews.  He has made these promises to us, and He is a promise keeper.  We just have to wait.  And in that waiting, we find Him there, lifting us up on wings like eagles to soar.  You may find yourself feeling like a pigeon – just waiting for a speck of food on the sidewalk.  But friend, remember – He has promised to lift us up to be eagles.  The wait isn’t that long.  It isn’t that hard.  You can do this.  You can soar.  It’s hard – the waiting.  We wait for the morning like watchmen who are nervously jumping at every shadow.  But when that morning comes, it’s gonna be the most amazing sunrise you can imagine!  Take heart, my friend!  He has overcome the darkest nights, and His mercies are new every single morning.  And that morning WILL come.  It will.  The wait may seem long.  But take heart – while we wait, we can soar!

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