Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's That Time of Year, Once Again


    One of the ways I have found to remain interested and engaged in life following your departure, Daniel, is to live life, in a sense, as if you were here.  I think that in a way, living a life that you would have enjoyed or would have enjoyed seeing me enjoy, pleases you.  I believe that somehow you see what I am doing.   Consistent with that way of thinking was my choice to get the two horses, which I will tell a bit more to the blog readers about, in the future.   You always enjoyed the alpacas immensely. The horses are different creatures but also interesting.  They need us to be dominant and in charge, so they don't have to be, but they also have a very clear idea of dominance and who should go first out to the meadow grass as it sits there waiting to be eaten.  I can clearly imagine your taking a lead and walking these creatures out to the meadow, adjusting their halters, and grooming them.  Sometimes, I feel as if you are walking with me, not letting your lack of physical presence prevent you from enjoying this special time with these horses.  I feel my Dad with me also. An accomplished horseman, I remember all he taught me.  Well, almost all. I still managed to let the larger one step of my foot when I was putting opthalmic neosporin on his eyelid. Dad would have been smarter. I feel him watching me as I use a hoof pick and I remember all he said about how easy it is to be kicked by a horse.

              In a short time, it will once again, be your birthday.  You would be 17 years old, early in May.  It would be time to teach you to drive, and you would likely be dating some of the girls who always adored you from the homeschooling group.  Your friends are turning into young men.  My friend Carol's two sons whom you knew have several trucks over at their farm. I am pretty sure the boys are restoring them.
            Oh, I still have the yearning sometimes, the feeling that you should still be here, and that you should not have been called.  I do know that God had a special plan for you, and for the likes of Ben Breedlove, Taylor Dorman, JT Baptista, and Michael White.  He did not waste your lives.  Our Lord had something else, something pivotal that he needed you all to do. I know this, and I know that you are in exceptional company.  I just wish sometimes that you could have stayed with me.
             Happy Birthday, you beautiful young man, who was a creature of light long before you actually physically became a creature of light.

"You're Not Alone" Sarah Slean

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another Teen Dies of Commotio Cordis


        On April the eleventh, Taylor Dorman was in school, and it was his sixteenth birthday.  He attended a gymn class in which the class was practicing line drives.  A few moments later, Taylor was accidentally hit in the chest with a softball.  He seemed fine afterward even joking about it.  Twenty minutes later, this was not the case.  Friends asked him if he were alright, and there was no response.  A medical transport helicopter was dispatched to the Southern California Ramona High School.
      CPR was continued, and Taylor is said to have survived long enough to have been admitted to an Intensive Care Unit. However he died not long after.
      Taylor is said to have been a loyal friend. He is remembered as a jovial and fun classmate. He had a lot of friends who will miss him badly.  The medical examiner's office indicates that Taylor experienced a heart rhythm disturbance prior to his death.    Friends say they believe that Taylor was known to have a history of a heart murmur.

His school says he will always be remembered as a very happy person.

       Children, teens and adults who collapse immediately or later and die of a heart rhythm disturbance are said to have had something called commotio cordis.   In each heartbeat, we have a vulnerable period called our "t" wave in which anything from a tap on the chest, a fall, or even vomiting can send the heart into a non productive rhythm.  This non-productive rhythm can eventually result in a cardiac arrest, and when it's caused by such a phenomenon, can be very resistant to resuscitation.
       I send my deepest condolences today to the family, and friends, and particularly the mother of Taylor Dorman.  I can relate to your shock, and your emptiness.
        Family and friends had planned to celebrate his sixteenth birthday this weekend, and are devastated that they will be attending his funeral instead.
       As the mother of a child who died who at 12 1/2, died of a cardiac arrest secondary sudden heart rhythm disturbance, without being tapped in the chest, and with no prior cardiac history whatsoever, I can tell you that much more of this happens than is realized.  I'm tired of being told how rare a sudden death in a child or teen from arrhythmia is.   Then why have I met so many ?      It's time to have AEDs at every practice, and it's time to screen all teens with an EKG before 13.   This will not catch every case, and an AED on site will not save every young man or young woman who experiences a sudden cardiac arrest, but we will do better than is being done in the US right now.   If I can spare even one family, the sudden and unexpected loss of a child, then this certainly seems a worthy task.

Taylor Dorman, in happy times.

A memorial fund has been established for Taylor Dorman and his family. Those who wish to donate can do so at the Bank of Southern California Ramona branch located at 1315 Main Street by mentioning Taylor's mother, Sue Kohler.

Our older posts on commotio cordis can be found at:

One of the boys mentioned in the post below, Matthew Hammerdorfer, also passed due to commotio cordis, although he was playing rugby.

Monday, April 8, 2013

On PBS... The BBC Series: Call the Midwife

  Daniel liked BBC series with excellent character development, or where the friendships or relationships between characters were explored and strengthened over time.  One of his favorites was BBC's Monarch of the Glen.   PBS, here in the US is presently running the BBC series Call the Midwife.      Call the Midwife is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a nurse and newly qualified midwife at the time, who arrives at her newly assigned position which she believes to be a maternity hospital in London's East End 1957.  Her new assignment turns out to be as a new midwife at a "Nurses House" named "Nonnatus House" which is part of a convent.  Medically trained nuns run the convent, and four NHS (National Health Service) nurse-midwives deliver babies within a large radius of the convent itself. When the young midwives are not delivering babies and carrying precipitous delivery packs on the back of the bicycles they use over cobblestone streets, they are running prenatal clinics. They also do their share of general public health nursing for the clientele who live near the convent itself.  The area in an around Nonnatus House is extremely poor, and this is quite a shock for Jennifer Worth's character, as she very quickly finds herself delivering babies in many different types of tenements and sometimes for difficult clients. In fact, in real life, these nurses delivered 80-100 babies per month  from the Poplar Region of London's East End, at that time.

The cast of "Call the Midwife"

          This is a particularly interesting program to me because culturally it is so different from how we managed maternity care here in the US at the same time, and as a Registered Nurse, this is of great interest to me. In 1957, in the US, pregnant mothers came to a hospital and have their labors managed and their babies delivered in a controlled environment.  In East End London at the same time, most every woman was delivered in their small flats by a midwife, while their loved ones waited, many times, just outside the bedroom door.
Interesting also is the education of midwives between the US and England.  In England, a State Registered Nurse took additional training at a hospital and became certified and as a midwife, and this could be done as early as age 22.  In the US, I trained in the late 1970s. A midwife here was a Certified Nurse Midwife who completed not only a Bachelor's degree in Nursing through a university, but also completed a Master's degree program in Nurse Midwifery, and became licensed as a Certified Nurse Midwife. Very few women in the US were candidates for delivery by an RN CNM.  Although in 1984, when my first child was born, my obstetrician was married to one, and she saw me, in the hospital, with him, the day before I delivered my daughter.  What is interesting is how different the childbearing culture was in these two places in the late nineteen-fifties onward.  I understand now how difficult it must have been for my mother, a British gentlewoman, when she and my father moved to his home in California, where I was born.  My mother was accustomed to a midwife coming to attend a birth, and she was shuttled to a hospital in Marin.

This is the SRN (State Registered Nurse) pin worn by registered nurses at that time in England.  It looks to me as if the midwives in this program are wearing these on the hats they wear while in public. See the burgundy colored hats at very top of page.

           Interestingly, as an RN, it sounds risky to me to deliver the bulk of women in their own homes, which may or may not be clean enough for normal childbirth.  The fact is, that most deliveries were in fact, managed by trained Registered Midwives in the United Kingdom, and most did just fine.

This is the pin that certified midwives in the UK, in that era wore, in addition to their SRN pins.  You can see this on their uniforms when they make home visits or run prenatal clinics. The owner of this particular one wears it on a cord.

           I was particularly touched by the episode in which a mother loses a baby, the day following his birth. It was handled sensitively, and I wanted to cry, as losing one of my own children, is so familiar to me.
           Daniel likely would not have liked all the delivery scenes, although he would have appreciated the development of the friendships between the young midwives, and their own personal challenges.
             If you have a chance to see this program, please watch. It is well developed, and the relationships between the women and the nuns are well developed over time.  If you are British, you will either appreciate the plans of the National Health Service, and if you are American, you will likely appreciate the manner in which we do things here.  One thing is certain, as hard as I have worked as a critical care registered nurse in this country, I have never worked as many hours or as ridden a bicycle to work, as these women routinely did.

        More information on the actors and awards on this remarkable  television program and dramatic series:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Travels and Treasures



  Four and a half years after Daniel's sudden passing, things about it still surprise me.  Sometimes, I can't believe it happened, and I expect to enter his room and find everything as it was, as if the entire thing was a bad dream.  Other times, I am surprised at how we continue to live our lives, almost as if he still travels with us, and is still a part of everything we do.  Sometimes, it feels as if he and my father still are a part of everything we do here.


            Yesterday was one of those days.   Our daughter has wanted an oriental rug or two, in good condition, for her new home.  Of course, as a new homeowner she can't afford, even with the great prices on oriental rugs in this economy, to go out and buy them new.  She and I have, therefore, been watching Craigslist for them. It has been an exercise in patience as many of them are quite large, and still quite expensive.  The day before yesterday, I found an ad on Craigslist about fifty miles from here from a family with seven reasonably priced small oriental rugs.   I forwarded the link to my daughter who was excited, but who also had to work her second job yesterday.  One of the things we have learned about Craigslist, is that if you want the item, you need to be available to proceed almost immediately.
           With my daughter working, my eldest son and I called the seller, and arranged to travel there and arrive at about lunchtime.  The traffic was far worse than we thought, but we still arrived just five minutes past when we had indicated.  In short order, we bought all seven small rugs for a very good price, rolled them up and my son placed them in the backseat of my car.
            The trip was sunlit and beautiful with all the Spring flowers in bloom.  This is a trip Daniel would have enjoyed. My Dad would have appreciated oriental rugs so reasonably as a casualty of someone's simply redecorating !  Why, my father even had bookmarks like oriental rugs !

           When we finally got home, I vacuumed the front and back, and aired them on the back deck railing, and readied them to give to my daughter today.  She was very excited when we told her we went and got them, as she could not yesterday.  She can use the ones she wants and then I will likely sell the remainder of them here. If she uses them all, that will be just fine.  Once again, many of the things families need are possible without spending a fortune, especially for those who are willing to be patient, and are willing to do a little bit of work, in terms of travel. I am sure both Dad and Daniel would approve !


Friday, April 5, 2013

Changes Are Coming to Our First Farm


  When Daniel was about one, we bought a large tract of land, and built a farm there.  Daniel was just over two when we moved in. We spent about six years on our first farm, and had many happy memories there.  We moved and built another farm elsewhere for several reasons.   One, we had a neighbor who was behaving in a bizarre and erratic fashion, and when you have four children, you can't simply arm everyone, including children, and hope for the best !  Secondly, our property taxes there shot through the roof. We were left with the idea that we could sell, and rebuild a similar farm, put more money down, and owe less of a mortgage upon its completion.  And so, we did what we always do, which was the thing that was best for our family.  We sold the original farm we had built.
             This was very difficult for us, although Daniel seemed to do fine. He liked adventure, and this brought many adventures, and much learning.
             I learned this week that the new owners of our original farm have decided to sell and move away.  I can't tell you how sad I am.  Leaving the original farm was difficult, but it was made better in the knowledge that the purchaser of the house and half the acreage there, truly loved the home and would care for it.  Now, we don't know who will have it, and whether they will care for it properly.
           Still,  nothing in this life stays the same, nor should it.  It's a journey with change often as the only consistency.  I would like to think that Daniel keeps an eye on the original farm also.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Hug from Daniel

I had a dream just before awakening this morning at almost six am. I was shopping at one of my very favorite consignment shops with Daniel. In the dream, Daniel was about four but he was sitting in a large umbrella stroller, which we never owned in real life. By four, Daniel walked everywhere with us. The consignment shop had moved to a large storefront with a large parking lot, which also is not true to real life. In the dream, I had just picked up some lovely large new Christmas carrier bags I would use next Christmas. My eye had been caught by a lovely set of new twin sheets with sailing ships on them. I was looking at these when the woman working in the shop said, "Your son is outside". I wanted to argue because I had seen him in the stroller just seconds before, but I looked outside anyway. I saw Daniel riding someone's bike at top speed all the way out to the farthest reaches of the near empty parking lot. I opened the door and called to him to come back. Instantly, he rode the bike back. First, I thanked him for returning immediately, and I asked him to put the bike back in the rack. I told him that he could be hit by a car riding out there. He complied and came in. When he did, I gave him the biggest hug. Then the dream ended. I know I am lucky in order to have dreams of him, even though they exist in a place where he is not the age he was at his departure, and neither am I. I have learned to appreciate these blessings.