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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Rest of the Hospital Story

     I had delivered my babies on Sunday morning, so Monday brought on a new challenge. I needed to be with Ben. Paul and I had talked our entire relationship about having a son and naming him Ben and then calling him BenBen because his last name would be Bennett. He was my little dream come true. I woke-up ready to get out of the ICU and go see my baby. I got up and started walking to prove that I was ready. I begged to have my foley discontinued so I could get around a little quicker. Everyone kept telling me to take it easy, I kept thinking you can go take it easy, I had a baby that needed me. If you know me, I am pretty stubborn and I had made my mind up to spend as much time as possible with my baby, nobody loved him like I did.
     Paul had done everything I had asked. If you know me, I usually have a plan ready. I told him that my mom could stay with me after the c-section, but I wanted him to stay with our son. Paul would come back and tell me about the different drugs Ben was on and repeat whatever the nurses had told him. I know he was exhausted from taking all of our family back to the NICU to meet our baby. I am so glad that everyone got to meet him. He was so cute and so tiny, only 2 lbs and 13 oz. Amazing how something so little could have perfectly formed fingers and toes, a tiny nose, precious ears, and hair. I guess one hidden blessing was that I was a nurse, so I knew what every value on the monitor meant, I knew what each drug he was receiving purpose was, I knew the side effects, I knew why his vent settings were being changed, I understood it all. I don't remember any physical pain from my c-section, but my doctor thought I should be in a lot of pain because he was so rushed throughout the whole surgery. I only remember this feeling in the pit of my stomach, my knees feeling weak, and my spirit feeling broken. This was not my life, it wasn't, I had to be stuck in a nightmare.
     And then, I started my angry conversations with God. I would tell Him how I had waited until I was married to have sex, I had served Him my whole life, I had done everything He said, Why was He doing this to me? Raise my babies up like Lazarus!! You have to, you owe me. Take me instead, take me please, I don't want to live without them. I had already planned on them playing baseball together, one a pitcher, the other a catcher. God, I already had this autoimmune illness, why are you doing this to me too?  WHY? Tell me now. I still don't have answers to my questions, but I never want to feel self righteous again. That is what I was feeling, I honestly thought I deserved a baby more than someone else and I know that is wrong. I know this is wrong by knowing so many of the most amazing people in my life that are unable to bear children. One in particular is Misty Reim Williston. Little does she know that she has helped me heal and given me peace. If I had to list a person that I only can think of good things to say about, it would really include the entire Reim family. The first thing I think of when I think of this family is Jesus-He oozes out of this family. Joining a bootcamp in March, I was reunited with the Reims and Misty is gracious enough to share her story of infertility. I honestly can't think of anyone more deserving to be a mother than Misty. Her baby would literally be the luckiest kid in the world. She has lived her life as a light for Christ and if I could, I would have a baby for her. I do not understand why God has not allowed her to bear a child, but I still pray that He will give her this blessing. Misty made me realize that I am not more deserving than her. If I had to go through all of this pain again to be able to have Thomas, then I would, Thomas is worth it. She hasn't had this opportunity, but she deserves it even more than me.I know God loves Misty, therefore, He must love me too.
      I visited Ben several times on Monday and I talked so much to him. I told him how much I loved him and how much I needed him. I told him that it didn't matter if he had cerebral palsy, brain damage, or anything else wrong with him, he was still mine and I loved him no matter what. I could handle anything. Ben still had not peed, this is very important because his kidneys were not functioning and he was too little for dialysis. Suddenly, I was the mom wishing I could give my baby my kidneys. He started having seizures, they were constant and I felt more helpless. I have seen hundreds of seizures, but I had never seen my baby have a seizure. I started praying so specifically, please let my baby pee, please let him stop seizing. During one of my last visits on Monday night, they had to start bagging him and I noticed his oxygen sats were a little lower each time I came to visit. I wanted to be positive, but it was getting harder by the second to be positive, I needed a glimmer of hope, I needed a sign from God. Please talk to me God, do not leave me. All night while I slept in my Antepartum room, the nurses who had taken care of me came in and cried with me, hugged me, sat with me, protected me from too many visitors, and they pampered me. I have no complaints about the care I received, I felt loved the whole time.
     Tuesday morning was hard, really hard. Paul left with his parents to go eat breakfast and make funeral plans for Jacob. I was alone when they came in to do a test to check for brain activity. This is the only time I got angry with a worker. This lady, who I could tell just finished smoking a cigarette, came and without putting on gloves, started putting these electrodes all over Ben's face and head. The nurse caring for Ben told her that I was a nurse and I was familiar with this test. She started doing the test and I could tell by her gestures that there was no brain activity, but I simply couldn't stand how she was acting like my baby didn't matter. I asked her to get her hands off of Ben. The charge nurse had already caught on and intervened and had a very nice elderly man come and complete the test. The news was grim. No activity, no pee, still seizing.God, I need a little ray of hope here. They ordered an ultrasound of his brain next. He had two major Grade 4 brain bleeds and they found that he had several "white spots" meaning that in utero, he had been deprived of oxygen, he had brain damage. I could tell by the monitors and the way he was starting to look that he was dying right before my eyes. NO, please God, you have to take me, I already have something wrong with me anyways, Please God, don't do this, forgive me for whatever I did to make you hate me, please stop punishing my son for my sins. Why God, why have you abandoned me? Save Him and I will never sin again Save him. Save my baby.
     Dr. Bedi came up to me and my Aunt Kay was there with me, it was her turn to visit with Ben. He said it, he said it out loud. "There is nothing else we can do for him, he is dying, he is suffering, you need to let him go." My knees failed me, I hit the floor, this was real. I was crying, wailing, and saying that this doctor didn't know me, I would change my kid's diapers until he was 100 years old, I loved him, I wasn't ready to lose him. Wasn't losing Jacob enough. I can't have more babies. What am I supposed to do? I don't want to be selfish and make my son suffer just so I could have a son. My aunt Kay had lost a baby too. She knew my pain, she knew what I needed. She held me up and then she went to get my momma. I called Paul and told him he had to get back to the hospital asap, Ben is dying. They shut the monitors off so that I couldn't see his vital signs anymore, I couldn't stop looking at them, his blood gas came back and his blood was so acidic, he was turning purple, even with the vent. I heard them talking about an oscillator vent and I said NO, I hated those ventilators and I had never seen a kid live after being placed on one. Paul arrived in record time and we were able to hold Ben as he took his last breath. Oddly enough, a childhood friend of my cousins Robby and Mike, named Jake was Ben's respiratory therapist and he is the one who disconnected him from the vent. My baby never took a breath on his own, I never heard him cry, he never peed, he never threw a ball, he never ate or drank anything, but he did exists and he stole my heart. I can't tell you why, but everytime I think about Dr. Bedi talking to me that day, I cry. I can't get past it. My aunt doesn't know this, but sometimes just being around her makes me emotional and I have to compose myself. I'm so glad my family all grew up on the same street and that we are all so close.

I saw the looks on the faces of the other moms in the NICU, the fear that their baby could be next. After Ben died, I wasn't as open. I just leaned on Paul and somehow he got me back to my room. I was mad now, no I was pissed. I was mad at Dr.Rowe, why didn't he take my babies out on Saturday before the twin to twin transfusion occurred? I know now that he is not psychic, but I still wonder. I said some awful things to God, but in the same instance I had a new respect for Him, He had lost His son as well. He watched His son suffer too. I wanted to curl up in my bed and die, that is the real truth. I was hoping for every post surgical complication in the world. I would have gladly taken a blood clot, massive bleeding, a terrible infection, you name it. Paul and I spent time with Ben in our room and then our immediate families came in separately to visit and hold Ben. I will never forget the look on my Pawpaw's face. It was pain, pain from losing his baby girl more than 50 years ago, he had never properly grieved for her. By the way he was looking at me, I know how much he loves me, he looked like he was in physical pain. For me, every breath was a struggle. For the first time in my life, I had no desire to eat, no desire to open my eyes, no desire to continue. I knew I was a different person, I would never be the same again, I would never be as carefree as I used to be. Blind faith, that is something I would have to regain, or had I ever truly had blind faith? These events would start me on a soul-searching journey that I am still traveling. Paul and I held Ben until the early morning hours of Wednesday morning, we fell asleep in a tiny hospital bed with our son in between us. I wanted to keep him forever, it was so hard to hand him over to the nurse to deliver him to the funeral people. Ugh, how would I survive a funeral? I am tough, I don't like for people to see me sad or weak, but I had no idea how I would survive the next few days, much less the rest of my life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Stuff In Between

I apologize for the long breaks with no blogging, our computer is still at the computer doctor, so I have to go somewhere else to blog when I find the time.

So, I told you about teaching, nursing school, and my nursing career at Shriners, but I didn't really fill you in on all the other little details. I was having yearly liver biopsies to see how my liver was progressing. I stayed pretty much the same, Stage 4 Cirrhosis, Stage 3 inflammation. At one of my doctor appts in February of 2008, my doctor said, "If you ever want to have a baby, you better do it sooner, than later." I was still dating and loving Paul, but I had huge commitment issues due to few things, but mainly a fear of not being able to give him a child. So, two weeks later, we were married on March 7th. Only our immediate family was there, which I later found out hurt some peoples' feelings, which I never intended. Someday, I would love to have the wedding of my dreams to renew my vows with Paul. I was on a mission ( I don't know if Paul knew about my mission), but I wanted a baby more than I had wanted anything else before. My heart longed to be a mother. After more than a year of trying to get pregnant, I went to the doctor and asked for help. The problem was, I was not ovulating regularly and I had only had 3 cycles in the past year. Strange, I was suddenly praying for a period. The things we do to have a baby. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed the following prayer, pay attention to it- "Lord, please let me have a baby, but if you choose not to allow me to get pregnant, God I can handle that, but I absolutely cannot handle getting pregnant and then losing my baby. Oh, and can it please have red hair?"
     So, when those two little lines appeared, I had total faith that God would only answer my prayer if He was going to allow them to make it, so I forged ahead with full confidence that God had blessed me with a baby. I shouted from the rooftops about the "blessing" He had placed in my belly. Paul and I told our parents by sending each of them flowers telling them they would soon be grandparents. I was so excited to go to the doctor to see my little baby on the sonogram. And then, there were two, two little turtles is what I called them. I later felt foolish for this next statement, but I exclaimed, "God has given us a double blessing." I clung to my favorite Bible verse, Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." I have since learned not to tell God what I can handle. I've also learned not to tell others things that I cannot guarantee, like "everything will be fine." I can't really tell anyone that things will be okay, face it, sometimes everything is not okay. Until very recently, I could not tell you one good thing that has come from the death of my babies, honestly I didn't want anything good to come from it. I wanted my babies instead. I know, it sounds selfish, but I'm being honest here.
    GUILT, what a yucky word, but I have so much of it. Guilt for everyday that I complained that I was going stir crazy on bedrest, guilt that I wouldn't let the lady who painted a mural in their nursery paint their names on the wall (I guess I wasn't so faithful), guilt that I didn't take it easier at work, guilt that I didn't always sleep on my side, sometimes I slept on my back, guilt that I drank some caffeine while pregnant, guilt that I complained about all the nosebleeds, guilt that I complained about nausea, guilt that I complained at all, and especially guilt that I didn't insist on the nurse calling my doctor Saturday night when I felt worse than I have ever felt in my entire life. I advocate for everyone else, WHY didn't I advocate for myself.
      My Jacob was dead Sunday morning, I should have raised a fuss, but no, I never want to hurt anyone's feelings. I had no idea I would be fighting for my life and my son Ben's life on Sunday. I wasn't prepared, how do you prepare for this? Sunday morning, the nurse couldn't find two heartbeats, only one. Positive me, I kept telling her how everyone else had the same problem, I was so sure everything was okay. Dr. Rowe came in and did an ultrasound, and then without warning he said, "we lost Jacob," I said, "what?". He said, "Katrinia, Jacob doesn't have a heartbeat." I started crying and I told Dr. Rowe he was wrong, he would see, he had to be wrong. He would take me to surgery and when they did the C-section, he would see that Jacob was really alive. He was wrong, he was wrong, he was wrong. This is all I kept telling myself. My mom helped me take a shower while Paul called family and our church. My sister, aunts, and cousins had to call a ton of peopel because ironically, I was having a baby shower at the hospital on this very day given by a wonderful friend Marilyn Tackaberry. It is weird, but I even have guilt that she planned a baby shower and put all this work and effort into my shower and I let her down.
     He was wrong, he was wrong, I was going to prove him wrong. God raised Lazarus, He would raise my son too. God you have to, please, God, take me. These are the thoughts I was having, I never once thought about what my body was going through and that I literally hadn't been able to breath for the past 5 days. I only saw pictures of Dr. Rowe after my C-section, but he was covered in sweat. He had worked hard to save Ben and then to save me. I had lost a lot of blood and I had ascites in my abdomen from my liver. I was yellow, jaundiced because my liver was failing me. This was more than it could handle.

(I am having to take a break, I have never told this story in writing and it is very hard for me)

    As a nurse, I woke-up to all kinds of blood products being infused into me, 5 ivs in my arms, pain all over, but no pain that compared to the pain in my heart and the fear inside me. Where were my babies? I needed my doctor to come talk to me. My doctor cried, this man of God cried and told me how worried he was about me and how he thought he had lost me. Later, I would wish that he had lost me for a while in my dark times. I never wanted to commit suicide, I just wanted to be with my boys. I didn't really want to hear all of this, so he told Paul to get a copy of my OR report and let me read it later. He told me Benjamin was upstairs, but he was not in the best shape. It was twin to twin transfusion and Jacob had taken all the blood, so BenBen was born with very little blood supply. This is the part that tears me up inside when I think about what an amazing man Dr. Rowe is. He must have told my ICU nurse that he didn't know if Ben would make it through the night, so my awesome nurse called the NICU, had them move all the babies beds around so that they could bring me up in my bed. My nurse stayed way past 7pm to take care of me, she went above and beyond. I got to see my Ben. His chest was going up and down, even if it was being controlled my a machine and he had a heartbeat, he was alive. I loved him instantly, but the nurse inside of me looked at all the meds, the monitors, the labs, the vent settings, I saw it all. My baby was on life-sustaining drugs, drugs I never wanted a baby of mine on, drugs that had serious side-effects, drugs that I was grateful for all at the same time.  I spent time telling Ben how much I loved him and that he needed to be strong for his momma because I needed him. After a while, we had to go back, but I will forever be grateful for those wonderful nurses that gave me that special time with my son. Little did I know, he would only be here two more days.

     Back in my ICU room, my baby Jacob had arrived and I was able to hold him and love him and kiss him, snuggle him, tell him how sorry I was that I had lost him. I am pretty much an open book if you know me, so I wanted to share even this terrible experience with the people that I love. My family and friends filled up three waiting rooms and everyone came in to visit and I wanted everyone to hold Jacob, love him, see him, and never forget him. I was still one proud Momma. All of these people would have been a part of his life, I wanted them to see my precious baby. We sang worship songs in my room with people all around, I cried, I prayed, I grieved. It wasn't until about 2 am that next morning that I realized my baby was really dead, strange, I know. Paul was at my bedside and I called my mom and sister. They came down in about 5 minutes and I became that mother, the one that lets out that awful wailing, deepfromhersoul, cry. My nurse sat outside my door and cried too. She was an ICU nurse, not a labor and delivery nurse, so she wasn't used to this. My mom, sister, and husband held me and let me cry, yell at God, ask why, they let me grieve. We never bring this up, it is too sacred to us all, but for the first time in my life I was helpless and unable to grasp this thing called "my life." What was in store? I just knew that God was going to perform a miracle in Ben's life, He had to, right?

Okay, I am emotionally exhausted, I will tell the rest of the story next time, but let me tell you, Satan didn't keep me down long, and I only got stronger working my way out of the valley.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Some Times I Feel Like My Cup Runneth Over Part 1

     I get a little overwhelmed here lately with all the goodness around me. I have the absolute BEST family a person could ever even dream of. They make me happy deep within my soul. I quickly found out who loved me when my boys died. I remember all the people that called me in the months following their death, the people who sent me nice cards, the people who went out of their way to talk to me or hug me when they saw me. You never forget those things. I only wish my sons could of had the opportunity to meet all of these people.

   Did you know that my cousin/best friend Karen Wood has literally been my best friend since the day I was born. She experienced every milestone in my life right beside me. She was there for the loss of my first tooth, my first set of stitches, my first heart-break from a boy, my first bra, my first black-eye, my first boyfriend, my first dog, my first everything.  She is often the first person I call with good news, and bad news too. When I called and told her I had liver cancer, she was really calm and we got off the phone kinda fast. Then, about two minutes later, she called me and I could tell she was crying and she was asking me lots of questions. She is so helpful, so she was already trying to help "fix" me. Karen came and sat with me every day for months after my boys died, MONTHS. She knew how deep my hurt was. I cannot ever lie to her, she knows when I am covering up my pain or hurt. I loved growing-up across the street from this beautiful person. I hated it when she was sick and we couldn't play together, or when my Aunt Kay had a headache and we couldn't hang-out ( now I realize that my aunt probably needed a break from all of us:). Karen is 11 months older than me and I have longed to do everything she does. She is a huge reason why I am a nurse today. She is a phenomenal nurse in the ER at Ben Taub. She can put and iv in, a foley in, and send labs off all in 60 seconds with a patient that is seizing. I could watch her "nurse" people all day. Since my diagnosis, not a day has gone by that Karen hasn't communicated with me and checked on me. People don't realize that since we grew-up across the street from each other, we were more like sisters. We both know all of each others' secrets, mistakes, accomplisments, embarrassments, desires, and fears. I get emotional almost every time I think of her, because so much joy swells up in my heart. The best thing about Karen is her relationship with Christ, she is also a Christian, so we will be together for eternity. I wouldn't know what to do if she wasn't in my life.  She is currently putting so much work into planning this softball tournament fundraiser for me. She is a gift from God in my eyes. I could spend days telling you about all the good things Karen has done in her life. She is so selfless- she was a nanny to her first nephew Noah out in California, and now she helps her sister Deborah with her two boys, and she loves every minute of it. I smile every time I walk by her car and see TWO carseats in the backseat! She will be a great mom someday just like her own mother. I want my son Thomas to spend time with people like Karen, people who always put others first. One quick story about us is that since we lived on the same street and we were practically connected at the hip, we seemed to always get the same exact thing from Santa each year. I would run across the street to see what she had received and I would see the same exact thing I had opened. Now, we know what was going on, but I am so thankful that our parents were insightful enough to see that if they kept things fair, we would not get jealous of one another. Our parents helped to foster a relationship full of love. I love you more than I can express Karen Wood. You have filled my love bank up to the brim. Thank you!

    One other fantabulous person in my family is my Aunt Tricia. She is the one who sends out all the email updates for me, organizes almost all of the fundraisers, and she is who I often go to for advice. She is my aunt by marriage, but this is one case where that saying "blood is thicker than water," is false. I wish you could see what a great example she is for me. I look to her for so much guidance. She loves Jesus, there is no doubt after meeting her only once. She is a Proverbs 31 wife, she loves her husband, my Uncle Booley. She loves all of him, the good, the bad, the nice, the mean, the selfish part, the helpful part, the easy part, and the difficult part. I often wonder if he even has a clue to how blessed he is. When you are newly married, you need to be able to observe someone like this to help you navigate through the hard times. She gives me the best, Godly advice right when I need it. I can't tell you how many times I have been having a meltdown and my phone rings, and you guessed it, it is Aunt Tricia. I unload. I can say ANYTHING, absolutely ANYTHING and I know she will never repeat it or judge me for it. I told her just how mad I was at God when my babies died, I told her about my doubts, my fears when I was pregnant again, my deepest pain and sadness. I also tell her about my joys in life, my accomplishments, my epiphanies. She ALWAYS listens with an open heart and an open mind. You know in this life, there aren't too many people you would feel comfortable with if they saw you, you know the real you, the one Jesus sees. But, I would totally feel comfortable with her knowing every single detail of my life. I tried to write her a card to thank her for all that she does for me, and I couldn't find words that give her justice. She will still cry with me when I cry about my boys, she still talks to me about them, she remembers them. You see, I always want to talk about them, but I don't want others to be uncomfortable. Tricia still says their names, thank you for that. Those are the sweetest names to hear, those are my boys, they have taught me more in 7 months of carrying them, than anyone else has ever taught me. My God is real, my God is good, my God is faithful, my God loves me, my God blesses me, and my God still works miracles everyday. Open your eyes and look around and see all the wonders God has created, wonders like my cousin Karen and my Aunt Tricia.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So Much I Want to Say

     Today at work, our PR lady, Joann interviewed me about all that was going on in my life because she wants to publish an article in the Texas Medical Center Newspaper. When I was talking to her, we both became a little emotional and it made me start thinking about all the wonderful people in my life and just how blessed I have been by my friends and family. So, throughout this blog, I hope to mention all the amazing people in my life when they come across my mind. But, I think I'll pick-up where I left off.....

     I loved all my clinical experiences during nursing school, which made it kinda hard to pick what I was going to specialize in when I graduated. THEN, I did my PEDI clinicals at Shriners Burn Hospital for Children in Galveston upon the recommendation from my cousin Karen. She knew that I would love this place. My heart was instantly in love. I was at a place where you couldn't tell which race a child was, until you met their parents. All the children were bald because the scalp is one of the best places to take donor skin from and it heals quickly, so usually upon admission, we would shave their heads in preparation for their upcoming surgery. The rooms were hot, the wounds were hard to look at, the parents were devastated, the children were amazing and resilient. I learned so much about life on this unit. I will never forget the gut-wrenching cries that a mother would let out when her child had died, it is a sound I never want to hear again. I will never forget all the selfless people that work there. I will never forget watching patients that were 99% burned walk out of our hospital. I witnessed miracles everyday. I would often call my mom when I was on my way home from work and I would just sob. I didn't understand why these kids had to suffer so much. It was heartbreaking and rewarding all at the same time. There will always be a few patients that I will never be able to forget.

     Two patients in particular taught me about a mother's love, it is like no other. One patient was extremely sick during Christmas time, which makes the situation even more depressing. This patient didn't have good odds, and one of the doctor's on Christmas day told me to call the priest because this kid would be dead before the day was up. I tend to get a little feisty (most of you are familiar with this), and I said, "No sir, I will not be calling a priest, this kid will not be dying today because he has presents to open." You see, his mother had all the Christmas presents she had bought him shipped to our hospital and she would remind him daily that Christmas was coming and how much he was going to love his presents. This mother never gave-up, she never lost her hope. Hope is one of the most powerful things in this world, you just can't lose it. I am proud to tell you that a priest never had to come because he recovered and is living a happy life today.  I witnessed a true miracle that Christmas season watching him beat the odds and prove every human doctor wrong, the mighty physician upstairs had a different plan for his life. I watched this patient's mother look at her son every day and no words can express how much love she felt for her child, she would give her life in the blink of an eye to save her son.

     The other patient was very sick, but his mother also never gave-up hope. On Mother's Day of this particular year, it was found that the patient had become blind. I listened with tears in my eyes as the doctor delivered this news to the mother. Without hesitating, this mother said, "Can I give him my eyes?" I had to leave the room to go and sob in the bathroom.  I had a glimpse of the love Christ has for each of us, and I realized how much my own mother loved me. I called her just a balling and thanked her for loving me so much. You see, my mom would lay down and give me her liver this very minute if she could, she cries more than I do, and me leaving this earth would hurt her deeply. Strangely enough, this is one of the best mother's days I had ever had, I finally "got it," and I realized that I wanted to be a mother with all that I am. I wanted to have this bond, I was full of love to give to a baby, and I yearned to love a baby the way my mother has loved me. I still couldn't believe that this mother said EYES, not one eye, both of her eyes. She was willing to be completely blind so that her son could see. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks later, her child needed to go on dialysis because the patient's kidneys were no longer functioning. Again, this mother asked, "Can I give him my kidneys?" Wow, what a woman. This mother and patient could not have been more different from me, we had very different religious beliefs, different languages, different race, different beliefs on marriage, the list goes on, but at the same time I could totally see how we were the same. Love knows no boundaries. I have never told anyone this, but on the day that my son Benjamin died, I kept seeing this patient and his mother's face in my mind, I couldn't stop thinking about them. I wanted to write this mother and tell her, thank you for making me want to be a mom so bad, even if it was only for three days, it was the best three days of my life and it was well worth it. I am proud to be the mother of Ben and Jacob. I would have given my life in exchange for theirs, this I know.

     Switching hospitals to the Houston Shriners Hospital where we do orthopaedic surgery and therapy, I learn a ton from these families too. So many of them were born at 27 weeks gestation like my boys, and many of them have cerebral palsy. I am blessed to know some amazing families and parents that handle having a child with special needs flawlessly. I had one patient that I took care of a couple of years ago, and I miss taking care of this family a lot, but they heard about my need for a liver transplant. They contacted a church friend that sent Paul, Thomas, and myself these prayer shawls that are meant to feel like "Jesus is hugging you," when you need a hug. They are so kind. This same family made a donation to Shriners in Ben and Jacob's names after they passed. These people are amazing and I only know them because I was their child's nurse. If you think the world is only full of badness, think again, the world is packed full of compassionate, loving, kind, giving, accepting people. Don't let the nightly news get you down. Sometimes I want to start my own news broadcast about good things going on. There are days where I really miss Marvin Zindler.

More to come later. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chick-Fil-A Fundraiser

Get your grub on with a cause.
Make your dinner plans to eat at Chick Fil A, 5104 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, TX  77505 on Tuesday, September 27!  Hours: from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.  We will be able to collect donations in a jar plus Chick Fil A will donate 15% of sales that are given in Trinia's name.  Tell all your friends!  You can dine in or drive thru - just remember to use Katrinia Bennett's name when you order!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Know I was Meant to be a Nurse

     My second year at DPJH was wonderful. I had the best friends a person could want, my students were kind, smart, and sometimes challenging, I loved living with my Pawpaw, but there was something nagging at me. I longed to be a nurse, I longed to help people when they were scared, in pain, or lonely. It was time to get serious about this, so I looked up the BACC2 Accelerated Nursing Program at UTMB/UTHouston. At the time, it was a shared program and we had teachers at both campuses. The majority of the classes were online, and I didn't even own a computer at the time. I have never been a person that thrives on computers, I use them as a necessity. This program was available to people who already had a bachelor's degree and a career, but I still needed all the prerequisites for the nursing program. I needed 26 hours! Ouch, I was about to go back to school full-time and work full-time.  I signed up for classes in the summer of 2005 and in one year, 3 semesters, I finished all 26 hours. I applied in November and had my interview in December 2005. Boy, was I a nervous wreck, I wanted this more than I could even describe. You see, I had to complete this program in a year because I would have to pay for COBRA insurance, which is super expensive and only good for one year. I found out in Feb 2006 that I had been accepted and would start classes in May 2006!! I was on my way to accomplishing my dream.  Thank you Lord for allowing them to choose me!

     Sadly, I had to resign from my teaching job a couple of weeks before the school year ended, but I felt like I was teaching the students around me that it is never too late to follow your dreams, and I knew I still wanted to work with kids.  My boss was super understanding, his daughter was a nurse and he valued the profession and was again, very supportive. I feel so lucky that I had such a great boss that never made me feel bad about following my dream. After letting everyone know that I would be leaving, one of the girl's coaches came up to me and told me something I will never forget. Coach Kramer does not just throw compliments out and she found me one day and said, "Katrinia, I think it is great that you are becoming a nurse, if I was sick, I would want a person like you taking care of me, someone upbeat and positive." She will never know how much that meant to me and I valued her encouragement. I often see her around town and I always make a point to go and talk to her, she is also an avid dog-lover like me, so you know she is "good people."

     The first day of orientation was overwhelming, I just knew I would end up failing because of my poor computer skills. Soon, I found I wasn't the worst computer person in the class. I quickly found a group of girls that became my "car-poolers/study group" friends. We quickly bonded together and figured out this program as a team. Every morning, we would meet up at the Kroger's in Dickinson and drive to Galveston. Tara, Moey, Katie, Heather, Sarah, and I shared many tears, laughs, gripes, announcements, frustrations, drama, and anything else you can imagine. The car ride was more like a roller coaster of emotions. We were the only people who understood what the heck we were going through. Our class started with 20 students and quickly dwindled down to 12. We were a close-nit group. I loved the entire year of nursing school, it was hard, it challenged every aspect of my life, but it was totally worth it.

     I mentioned Heather earlier, but I need to elaborate more on this special girl. First off, she is BEAUTIFUL, not just on the outside, but on the inside. When I first met her, I got this really good feeling in my heart, she just oozed goodness from her soul. In her first career, she was a flight attendant, so she would perform all kinds of nursing skills like a flight attendant would. Just use your imagination....suppositories, colonoscopies, bed baths, she would give instructions directing people to the exits etc..  I soon got to know Heather and her family very well. Her dad was the athletic director at a local Christian school, her mother taught at the same school as her dad (how cute), her brother went to Texas A&M and was really cute, and her sister had a beautiful family and lived in Dallas. I kept waiting for Heather to drop her sweet as pie act, but after a few years, I realize that she really is full of kindness. It is strange to me that on that first day of class, when she introduced herself for the first of fifty times that year, I instantly knew we would be good friends. She is one of my best friends. She loves me when I'm mad, sad, happy, grouchy, corny, serious, silly, the list goes on. I knew how much she cared for me when my twin boys died. She made me feel better and that was hard to do during those dark times. She is a Labor and Delivery nurse, so she knew how serious my entire pregnancy was and she would still be so positive, but she would still be a nurse. She would make sure I really followed my doctor's directions, and she even made me several meals. She told me something after the boys died that gave me a little sense of peace that no one else was able to give me. She told me that going through this tragedy with me had made her a better nurse to her patients that experience loss like mine. She even took over the grief group that deals with patient's that lose their babies. She turned my boys life into something positive, thank you so much Heather. I never told you how much that helped me.

    I have so many fond memories of nursing school and all my clinicals that I could go on forever. That was one of the happiest times of my entire life. I was still living with my Pawpaw and he kept me rolling too. I would not have been able to become a nurse if my Pawpaw had not let me live with him. Not only was he helping me, but I was able to grow close to my grandfather. When he was married, we were only allowed to spend the night with him once a year and we didn't get to go over there very much. I was getting to know this piece of history. He had done so much in his life, and he was still living it to the fullest. I remember the first time I thought I was doing him a favor and I mowed the grass. He told me that he may be in his late seventies, but he was totally capable of mowing the grass himself and I had cut it too short. Well, excuse me is what I thought in my head, typical man can't just say, "thank you."  If you know my Pawpaw, this next sentence will totally hit home with his personality. About two weeks went by and he knocked on my door and said, "When are you going to mow the grass?" I give up!!! So, I started mowing the grass, but I kept telling him that I knew he could do it, but it made me feel good to mow. I really do enjoy mowing. One more thing, I kept "assessing," my Pawpaw all the time and I swear that I diagnosed him with all kinds of things I learned about in school. I think he just enjoyed the extra attention and put up with all my silly diagnosis' to keep me happy. I was already doing things out of my scope of practice and I hadn't even graduated yet!

     Gotta go take care of my baby, I will pick-up where I left off later! Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Life Goes On

     Finding out about my Autoimmune Hepatitis occurred during my first year at DPJH. It is funny how you remember things in your life. I remember some things by the pets I had in my life at the time, others are the friends I was with, and then some are by my job at the time. That summer I started taking my immunosuppressants and steroids. GROSS! That is the best word to describe steroids. It makes you grow hair, makes you gain weight, makes you irritable, makes your bones brittle, makes you feel like you are never full, makes you feel nauseated and the list goes on. I decided that I was going to stay upbeat while taking steroids and it was/is a daily battle within myself. I got my very own waxer to take care of the hair issue, and I adopted a new motto about gaining weight, "I would rather be big and happy instead of a skinny sack of bones in the ground." It kind of put things in perspective for me.  I know that when I get to heaven, Jesus is going to say, "Katrinia, here is a skinny body for you, go and eat whatever you want and don't even think about exercising." Guys, I know that this really won't matter in heaven, but it still makes me smile. I have to be honest, some days I lose the battle and I lash out at the people that I love the most, but luckily most of them are very forgiving and understanding. I had already purchased plane tickets to go back to Africa with my Pawpaw, Aunt Kim, and my brother John. I asked my hepatologist about this and he said I could go, but this should be the last time. Since I am now immunocompromised, I was extremely vulnerable to all the diseases and new bacteria the country of Africa had to offer. My doctor made me promise I would never go back after this summer. I agreed with my fingers crossed, I have never been a person that likes it when people try to put boundaries around me. If you really want me to do something, all you have to do is tell me that I can't do it. 

     What a blessing that trip to Africa was, the only bad thing was that I missed Paul while I was away. I now see that God had this in his plan. First off, after going to Botswana and seeing all the hospitals there full of sick people, I suddenly was so grateful that I lived in America, and not only that I lived in Houston with some of the best medical care the world has to offer. Thank you Jesus! I also became grateful for this precious time with my very elderly grandfather. He is truly a legend. He is very giving, but you would never know because he never needs the credit for his gifts. I only know this secret about him because I lived with him for three years and I caught him in the act of his kindness. I was able to camp out in a tent with my Pawpaw in Africa. Who else can say this?  This trip was also the first time I realized my brother had a true gift and passion for sharing the Word of God. He can witness to anyone unashamed. I wish I was more like him in this way, there have been way too many times that I passed an opportunity to share my faith. Strange, when you are sick, things are suddenly easy to prioritize in my mind. I am unashamed of the love I have for Jesus Christ. Anytime I am down, all I have to do is look at my son and there is no mistake that God loves me and fulfills His promises. On the day Thomas was born, I wanted to shout from every rooftop about my God! This trip also allowed me to truly bond with my Aunt Kim. I will never know how she accomplished all that she has in her life. She is a single mom to 3 wonderful kids, an RN, a believer, a sister, a daughter, a volunteer, a friend, and my hero. Did you know that when my parents couldn't afford new school clothes for me while I was in high school, Kim took me shopping for new clothes and I got to buy something that wasn't on sale? Now, as I am a grown-up, I fully understand the sacrifice she made for me. I am sure she had to work an extra shift for that or she had to give something up that she needed for herself. I am forever thankful for her love and her example. She is happy and content, you can't really say that about too many people these days.

     There are plenty of funny stories from Africa too, so as I continue to blog, I might throw in an Africa story or two. When I came back home, it was time to get ready for the next school year. I couldn't wait, I was moving up to the 8th grade and I had absolutely loved my seventh grade students, so I was pumped to get to continue with such a great group of kids. I was excited about taking over the cheerleaders and I didn't feel like the new kid on the block anymore. I realized that I had to just keep living my life the best I could.

     One area that was still a little crazy was my relationship with Paul. While I loved him with all of my heart, and I knew he loved me too, I had a lot on my mind. I struggled daily with the thought of him not being a dad, I watched him with children all the time and I knew he would be amazing. His dad is the same way, children are drawn to them. I wanted him to experience that. I mean, I wanted children too, but I could deal with no children by myself, but I didn't want to be the cause of him not having children. I think I had a small glimpse of some of the emotions that infertile couples struggle with. I'm not saying I know what they go through, just a little taste of the emotions that engulf you when you think you can't reproduce. The one thing I didn't count on, was my amazing God. I wish I could go back and have no worries or fears about this  It would definitely have made Paul's life easier.  I also was worried about gaining weight. I wanted Paul to have a beautiful wife for the rest of his life. I worried about dying and that changing his life,  I worried about him having to take care of me. I worried that my illness would ruin his life. I probably should have shared all of these worries with Paul, instead I did what an insecure woman does and I pushed him away. Insecurity was a new feeling for me, I had always been extremely confident and fearless, but when you have a chronic illness, something inside of you says, "see you aren't good enough, you are damaged."  I wish I hadn't listened to myself because I would have been married a lot longer these days if I had just followed my heart.

    Okay, my baby just started crying, he is a little under the weather, so I must go, more to come......

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pasadena Rodeo Cook Off Event


Want to help spread the word about Katrinia Emerick Bennett and her need for support for a liver transplant?

Well, here’s another opportunity for you to do just that!

This is how you can help:
We need volunteers to help man a booth at the Pasadena Rodeo Cook Off.  People can take shifts that are 3 - 4 hours long (shorter or longer if necessary).  We will need 2 or 3 people manning our booth at any given time.

If you man the booth, you will be selling fundraising bracelets, telling people about Katrinia’s Liver Transplant situation, and tell them how they can donate, support, volunteer, and pray for Katrinia.

The dates and times for the Cook Off are:
Thursday, September 29 - 5:00 - 11:00 p.m.
Friday, September 30 - 5:00 - 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 1 - 12:00 - 11:00 p.m.

*There is a possibility that a booth may become available during the Rodeo (takes place before cook off), but we won't know that until the last minute.*

If you are interested in helping, call Kyle Emerick at (713) 459-9497 or email her at