Dear Waynedale Family,
I am at the lake and did not think to bring my journal with me, so I will deviate from the page-to-page account and give you some overall thoughts.
I knew when I went digging for that journal that there would be a lot of remembering of those things that I had hoped to forget. And so it is, but I have also found that I remember funny things and soulful things that were packed in the back of my mind.
Heart transplant pioneer, Bill DeVries became a friend rather quickly. All the nurses were on a first name basis with him within the first few days, as was so with artificial heart inventor Rob Jarvik. It was a time of history for all of us. Documented history.
One of the things I remember is that it was just the beginning of the “new disease”, AIDS. No one really knew much about it, rather than it was believed to circulate in homosexual communities and that heterosexuals were immune to the disease, somehow, unless exposed to bodily fluids of homosexuals, which we all assured ourselves we were not. As I look back, I realize how naive and even cruel this assumption was.
At any rate, we had Bill Schroeder back in the CCU in Room 8 and Murry Hayden in Room 1. Both were artificial heart patients and we had only 8 rooms. So…Rooms 2 through 7 were filled with cardiac patients, with the exception of Room 3 in which we had an AIDS patient. To have a patient in our unit who was critically ill with something other than cardiac problems was not totally unusual, as we took ICU’s overflow and they did the same for CCU. But, primarily, we had cardiac patients. I don’t recall how we ended up with the AIDS patient, but you might as well have placed him in Bed 3 from outer space, as alien as he seemed to the hospital staff.
Fear was also at the forefront as it was (and is) fatal. We had no idea, really, what to do with someone with AIDS except to keep him in isolation. It wasn’t just any routine isolation, either, but one in which it seemed the plague itself had been visited upon us. The nurse assigned to the room had him, alone, and could not be in contact with anyone else in the unit, let alone any other patient. Bill (DeVries) asked us to be especially vigilant not to contaminate his artificial heart patients.
I remember being in the room with the AIDS patient and preparing myself for his care. I was in double sterile precautions. It is not a comfortable day to be double-gloved, double-gowned, double-masked, etc. So, I remember my first day with this AIDS patient named David. He was almost skeletal, and dying. He had IV’s going, of course, and being medicated, but he was not going to be with us for long. He reminded me of those pictures of concentration camp prisoners. He was quite young, in his 20’s, and I remember conversing with him for the first time.
First, I checked all the equipment in the room, delaying interaction with him, and then, settled in for an 8-hour shift of caring for him. I consider my time with him a blessing. He was so kind, intelligent and caring. I don’t know what sort of person I expected, but certainly not the humane, loving person that I encountered. He knew he was not going to live and we talked about it. Or, rather, I listened to his feelings and thoughts, nearing death. I listened to his story, and felt that it had not been often told. He was subjected to much in his lifetime because of his homosexuality. His partner was not allowed to come into the unit for reasons of “precaution”. I realized how ostracized we, as a society, had made him, like the lepers of old. I don’t know how much I had thought about it before, but I asincerely believe, at this time in my life, that homosexuals are born as such, and it is not a lifestyle choice. Nobody would choose a life of rejection and hate, which is what many, or most, endure. There is a binary scale that, if you draw a line, and put “female” at one end, and “male” at the other end, these are the extremes. In-between are all the others who aren’t either extreme. So, a person in the middle of this binary line would be bi-sexual. I am absolutely convinced, reading a great deal of medical research, and much research on my own, that this is true. The reason for the research is that I have a grandchild who is transgendered. In the research of attempting to understand why a child at two years old adamantly insists that she is a boy, unwavering through to today at eleven years of age, presenting as a boy, took me through a lot of study and I learned much about different kinds of sexual identity, which is inherent to ones’ nature. (As a matter of clarification: a homosexual is one who is attracted to one of the same sex. A transgendered person identifies herself as the opposite sex.)
To discriminate against any who are different because of sexual orientation is the epitome of cruelty. As I spent hour after hour in isolation with David, I learned much that has served me the rest of my career, and my life. There are those who would seek to destroy and hate homosexual, transgender, or any other person along that binary line. They are so wrong. I know that many who profess to be Christian take a hard line against what they consider sexually abnormal people, but they are also wrong. Early in the gestation of the baby…perhaps as early as the first weeks, certainly by the second month or so, a baby’s gender is “assigned” as it were. A baby is born with the genitalia of either male or female, or both, in come cases. But all are born with what is called ” gender assignment” so that no matter what the genitalia reveal, the child will develop anywhere along that binary line. So, in this in-between of writing from my journal, I want to make a plea to all my Waynedale friends and others who read The Waynedale News to take heed of what I say. Not because I am any wiser than anyone else, but I believe what I have learned, experienced and observed. There are many of you reading these words today who will nod their heads because they understand that in their own selves or their own families there are differences in sexual identity. And all of these are part of the spectrum of human beings. Be kind, understanding and accepting of those who are different from you, and hold your tongues before you judge someone who is different. Like my dear old dad used to say…it takes all kinds of gears to run a clock.
Blessings to you,
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