Friday, January 21, 2011

Making a difference

Do I make a difference?
In effort to remember and never forget this story....I blog. It all started...20 years ago..and leads to today.

I wasn't a banner student in high school. I was lucky to make D's. I would try, but give up. Eventually, I just stopped trying. I didn't feel smart. I was there for social reasons. I wanted friends...relationships...people to like me. Even in that area, I still struggled.
My senior year brought many new things to our school. New teachers, a new principal, and yet, another year for me to struggle. That part, had not changed.

I had made it through half of the year knowing there were certain things I had to accomplish in school to graduate, but was struggling to reach those milestones. I knew in the next few weeks an English research paper was due. In order to graduate, I needed to do really well on this paper. But, I really was focused on having fun.

I had been assigned to write a paper on Leonardo Divinci, who himself, was not a man who loved to be taught, but rather, loved to work & learn with his hands. The only education he had was a very basic one. He always had one thing in mind, and that was to reach a goal and feel a sense of accomplishment. He was a man with a vivid imagination and felt like nothing was impossible. I became very intrigued with his personality and his personal goal for success. Therefore, I wrote a paper...even though, I didn't really know how.
I had my mom look over it the night before I turned it in, however, she also didn't know what I was really supposed to be doing, other than writing a paper.

The day came to turn in my paper and I was just a little nervous. It was either pass or fail time.
At the end of class, my teacher calls me to the front. "Did you do this all on your own?"
Oh.....I WANTED TO MAKE SOMETHING UP QUICK!!! Praying "Please God, give me the right answer to say right now"....so I said
"Yes, I did it on my own, but I had my mom look over it last night"
The next words.....so simple....but changed the rest of my year.
As this teacher looked me in the eye, he said: "You did a really good job"

I went the rest of the day with those 6 words in my head, playing them over and over. They were simple, but they mattered to me. For once, someone liked what I did. Someone believed in me. Someone that didn't know anything about me, anything about my past, anything about my family, anything at all......he believed in me.

The rest of the year went by rather quickly. I was making up for lost time in all 6 classes I was trying to do my best to pass. I didn't graduate with honors, but I did complete the goal and felt good about my efforts. After that....I never spoke to that teacher again. I was unable to thank him. I was unable to tell him what a difference he made in my life.

Fast forward 20 years.

I have graduated college and moved on to a wonderful career doing one of the most rewarding things a person can do....save the human life, or be with them as they move on to eternity.

The summer of 2010 was crazy. I had just graduated & was being trained in several different areas in the hospital. One in particular was the Trauma ICU. I was at the end of my training and basically working on my own. I had completed all of the steps but was just being observed in case anything went wrong that I didn't know how to handle.
I went to work, printed off my patient list as usual....but something was different.
This time, there was a name I recognized in the Trauma unit. Could it be? Was it really THAT teacher from 20 years ago that made such a difference in my life? Nah! There is no way.

I proceeded to the unit to get report and heard about this terrible accident involving a man who feel off a ladder and relocating his throat under his left ear. It wasn't pleasant, but we don't always deal with pleasant. Clinically, things were not in this man's favor. At this point, all he had on his side was God, and I was praying they were on the same team. Then....I was told....it was my teacher. The man that made the difference in my life would now rely on me, my skills, my hands, my knowledge.....and I felt so green! I was nervous....but probably not as much as he was!

He had been there for several days and had already undergone a tracheotomy. Today was the day to take him off of life support and make sure that he is going to breath on his own. That's always a scary day....for them...and for me.

I walked in and introduced myself. He didn't recognize me....so I thought. I'm 20 years older, have 3 kids now, and changed my last name. No way he could remember me. I proceeded to to explain what was about to happen. Boy, did he look nervous. He had questions and I took the time to listen and read his lips since he could not speak. He was scared of the unknown. I assured him that if anything happened, I would be right there, and I also had backup ready, so we were all prepared. Once I was able to calm his fears & gain his trust in me, I prepared all the necessary equipment and was ready to shut off the ventilator. But......then.....I stopped.
The next words were what I had been waiting that whole time to say:

"I guess this is probably a good time to tell you that you were my teacher 20 years ago huh?"

Oh my!!! I watched his heart rate sky rocket on the monitor and his blood pressure increased and his lips moving ever so rapidly saying "I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY!"
I'm sure at this point, he was wondering if he had ever given me a bad grade! Ha!
I smiled from ear to ear, and watched his face turn from total fear, to total reassurance and trust. At that moment, he had no where else to go, except to trust me. I took him off the ventilator and stayed by his side reassuring him that he was breathing fine and that I wouldn't leave him. He did very well.

Later that evening, I was able to speak to his wife in the waiting room & tell her the story of how her husband made a difference in my life, and now, I feel I am getting to give that back to him. Yet, he didn't even know what he had done for me. It was time for me to go home for the day but I didn't want to leave him without reassuring him he was going to be fine. I went to tell him goodbye and ended up telling him how much of a difference he made in my life. He just laid there. He couldn't speak, but I could tell....he appreciated those words. I think at that point, he knew he could trust me.

Those days led to many more days of conversations, treatments, and the healing process. He truly is a walking miracle. I prayed and prayed that the man who was instrumental in my success to graduate high school, would continue to live on so that he could make a difference in the lives of so many other students. I am so thankful to God that he completely healed him...and did it so quickly that science cannot explain it.
He was able to start teaching again this year without missing a day. He is making a difference in the lives of kids who will one day make a difference in this world somehow.

He is a blessing to me. A motivator. A friend. 20 years ago, I could have never predicted this would happen this way, but I am thankful for opportunities that give me the chance to tell someone else how important they are to me.

I never had the chance to thank him. Now....I can thank him everyday.

As for that research paper on Leonardo Di Vinci.....I got an A! 99% to be exact. I lost 1 point for misspelling the word "Women" GO FIGURE!!!!

Leonardo said: "There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see."

I'm thankful that my teacher was of the higher class...and could see that I was one that wanted to be shown instead of one that would not see.

5 comments:

Terry Rush said...

A powerful story....my friend!

Terry Rush said...

I'm commenting because you ought to at least get more than one comment out of this!

Can't stay long.

Brenda said...

Terry, you make me laugh.
It's okay to not have any comments. I blog so that I can go back and read it later and reflect on things. I blog for me. Any comments that may come across are just an added blessing. So thank you. You have doubly blessed me now! :o)

Anonymous said...

Wow...I love your story! Thanks for sharing! I'm so glad that you were able to bless your teacher with your witness! Sometimes it is great to know when you make a difference in someone's life! By the way, you make a difference all the time. Not just because of your job but because you live for Him...."and they will know you are my disciples by your love"! You shine beautifully in this world! Love you!
Melissa Smith

Lita said...

Brenda, I'm sitting in an RV Park Clubhouse (only guaranteed wi-fi signal) catching up on my blog reading while Neal is at work. I know this is not a recent post, but I still have to comment. You are just such an amazing person. Like you, I don't blog for the comments, but to document things I want to remember. This story is too precious to ever forget. I love your passion. I love that I get to know you!