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Lindsay A. Ewan, M.D.

Lindsay A. Ewan, M.D., an adolescent medicine physician, has established her practice with OU Children’s Physicians. She has also been named an assistant professor with the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.
Adolescent medicine physicians provide comprehensive general health care to teenagers, including routine wellness checks, sports physicals and immunizations. Ewan also sees patients with concerns regarding eating disorders, reproductive health and mental health.
Ewan is board certified in pediatrics. She completed her fellowship in adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Ohio, and Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston. She completed her pediatrics residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She earned her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, graduating cum laude.
Ewan is a member of the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics.
OU Children’s Physicians practice as part of OU Physicians, Oklahoma’s largest physician group. The group encompasses nearly every child and adult medical specialty.

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Andie MacDowell is the Featured Guest Speaker

It’s that time of year again… Time for the 29th annual INTEGRIS Women’s Health Forum! Get ready for two full weeks of INTEGRIS-hosted sessions on health, exercise, nutrition and the latest medical breakthroughs.
The series will run from Sunday, Oct. 11 through Saturday, Oct. 24. Our keynote speaker this year will be Andie MacDowell. Her event will kick-off the forum at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11 at the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., in Oklahoma City.
Andie MacDowell has established herself as an accomplished actress with worldwide recognition. MacDowell has been seen on the big screen in Footloose, Monte Carlo, the indie feature Mighty Fine and most recently in Magic Mike XXL.
On TV, MacDowell stars as Judge Olivia Lockhart in Hallmark’s first ever scripted series, Cedar Cove. Previously, she was featured on the ABC Family series Jane By Design and starred in the Lifetime original movies At Risk and The Front, both based on Patricia Cornwell crime novels.
Earlier movies she received notoriety for include the ever-popular St. Elmo’s Fire. MacDowell earned the worldwide title of No. 1 female box-office draw with her performance in the smash hit romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. She also starred in the classic Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. In other comedies, MacDowell continued to partner with top leading men including Michael Keaton in Multiplicity and John Travolta in Michael. She first received critical acclaim and accolades for her performance as a repressed young wife in Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape.
For her philanthropic work, MacDowell was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Lander University and received an Honor of the Arts from Winthrop College. She continues to serve as an international spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris, a role she has held for 25 years.
Make reservations now to spend the evening with the classic Andie MacDowell!
Register early. This EVENT IS FREE, but space is limited and a ticket is required for admission.
Call the INTEGRIS HealthLine at 405-951-2277 or toll free 888-951-2277 to register.
The INTEGRIS Women’s Health Forum has something for everyone. Topics address all ages and stages of your life, as well as the lives of your children and grandchildren. Many sessions will appeal to the men in your life too. We have a day dedicated just to them, INTEGRIS Men’s Health University, which will be held on Oct. 3 before the actual forum begins.
Other event topics include:
Actively Retired, Pelvic Pain, Cleanses and Detoxes, Girls Night Out, Heart Health, Can Hormones Make You Fat?, The Importance of Sleep, Vaccines, Breast Cancer, Living Fully with a Cancer Diagnosis, Knee Pain, Achy Legs, Pain Management, Bloated Bellies, Have Fun and Stay Young and Cut the C.R.A.P (Caffeine, refined sugar Alcohol and processed foods).
Wrapping up our two weeks, we have a day for seniors on Oct. 23 and an event designed especially for African American women, our ninth annual, on Oct. 24.
How to Register
Reservations are required for all events. Unless otherwise noted, events are free. Please provide the name, address, e-mail address and phone number of each guest.
To register, call the INTEGRIS HealthLine at 405-951-2277 or toll free 888-951-2277, and a representative will take your reservation. You may also register for most events online 24 hours a day at integrisok.com/whf.
Advance payment is necessary for events that require a fee, and it is due at the time of registration. INTEGRIS pays for a portion of all events to allow participants to be able to enjoy sessions for a minimal charge.
Payment can be may be made by credit card, or check mailed to:
INTEGRIS
3300 NW Expressway, # 001-7335
Oklahoma City, OK 73112

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Brad Burget, M.D., is a board certified pediatrician and internal medicine physician at INTEGRIS Family Care Central in Oklahoma City. He enjoys reading and hopes to share that joy with his smallest of patients through the Reach Out and Read program.
The nonprofit organization consists of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide, by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud into well-child visits.
During regular pediatric checkups, Reach Out and Read pediatricians, family physicians and nurse practitioners give new, developmentally appropriate books to children, ages 6 months through 5 years. “I personally wished to implement this program in my practice because I have seen the value of what it means to share a book with a child in my own home,” says Burget, who is the father of a 3-year-old girl and 1-year-old little boy. “Reading at a young age is vitally important for the healthy development of language and reading skills, as well as giving the child the ability to transport themselves to places they have never been or may never go. It is my hope through the Reach Out and Read program that Oklahomans will have greater access to books at a young age, while instilling a love of reading that will last a lifetime, and in turn help improve our state’s literacy level and school performance.” During the preschool years, children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These early foundational language skills help start children on a path of success when they enter school. Reach Out and Read partners with more than 5,200 program sites and distributes 6.5 million books per year. The program currently serves more than one-third of all children living in poverty in this country, and continues to grow each year with the vision that one day the Reach Out and Read model will be a part of every young child’s checkups. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with Burget, call 405-945-4322.

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Traci Owen, RN, BSN helps couples survive cancer together.

by Mike Lee
Staff Writer

Traci Owen, RN, BSN has the title of survivorship manager at Tulsa’s Cancer Treatment Centers. She’s also the sexual awareness nurse or just the sex nurse for short.
But whatever she’s called, hundreds of couples have found out she’s been the savior of their relationships during a cancer diagnosis.
“What I noticed was at the beginning of a cancer diagnosis both partners are all in,” Owen said. “As cancer has become a disease of chronicity with people living longer with cancer and many ongoing treatments you see those couples silo off from each other at about 10 to 14 months.”
Owen says couples often band together with the initial diagnosis.
Then roles change from husband and wife to caregiver and patient.
The tests, the nauseating chemo and other treatments begin to take their toll.
There’s fatigue, loss of sex drive and, often times, ability to function.
Partners may be living with cancer but the disease’s first real victim is intimacy.
“There is very little that we do that doesn’t have some sort of effect on sexuality,” Owen said.
A 2009 study published in the journal Cancer found that a married woman diagnosed with a serious disease is six times more likely to be divorced or separated than a man with a similar diagnosis. Among study participants, the divorce rate was 21 percent for seriously ill women and three percent for seriously ill men.
A control group divorced at a rate of 12 percent, suggesting that if disease makes husbands more likely to split, it makes wives more likely to stay.
That’s why Owen begged her administrators a few years ago to make her position permanent.
“Patients are waiting for healthcare providers to bring up those side effects and the healthcare providers are sitting back and waiting for the patient to bring it up,” Owen said. “I’ve been amazed at how many healthcare providers are not comfortable discussing sexuality.
“Several patients told me they brought it up and they felt shut down so they’ve never brought it up again.”
Away from the hospital, Owen and husband, Michael, serve as the marriage counseling team at Asbury United Methodist in Tulsa.
The duo, who lead an eight-session premarital counseling course, are sometimes seen as an obstacle.
“Usually they dread us,” Owen said. “They come in thinking they are going to be judged for whatever.”
But at CTCA, people are beating a path to her door.
“Usually if someone doesn’t cry on our first visit I figure I haven’t dug deep enough,” Owen said. “This is so emotional and it’s such a connection issue. When that partnership begins to struggle the patient becomes weaker. So if we can keep that marriage strong and that relationship connected to each other the patient always fairs better.”
A CNA since 17, Owen has 31 years in health care.
“I have no other skills,” she laughs.
The 1989 Central State University grad has loved every season of her nursing career.
“I was that kid at three telling everyone I was a nurse,” she said. “I feel like I was put here and that was my role to be a nurse. I can’t imagine doing anything different with my life that would be any more fulfilling. For me, nursing is a passion and I love that I’m 26 years down the road and I still have such a passion for being a nurse.”
Owen cut her nursing teeth at St. Francis in Tulsa in 1990, where she had the dubious distinction of being the first new grad ever hired at the trauma center.
“A lot of the staff was really mad the director had brought in this young chick with no experience,” Owen said. “Those nurses were so hard on me but they formed me into a really strong nurse. I loved trauma medicine.”
Since 1988, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) has been helping patients win the fight against cancer using advanced technology and a personalized approach.
Four of the CTCA hospitals have maintained the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ coveted Five-Star Quality Summary Rating based on patient experience, a reflection of the Patient Empowered Care model and Mother Standard at the heart of operations.
At the Tulsa center, Owen helps both couples and providers unpack their sexual baggage.
“Nurses, doctors – all of your healthcare team are trained in the anatomy,” she said. “We know all the correct names. We know the location, physiology and function and disease. But when we start talking about the issue of sexuality that brings in a whole psychological realm and we’re not prepared for that in training.”

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march-of-dimes-logo

The March of Dimes Oklahoma Chapter, in partnership with the LeNorman Family, honored 20 outstanding nurses at the 2015 Nurse of the Year Awards.
Through Nurse of the Year Awards, the March of Dimes recognizes nurses who demonstrate exceptional patient care, compassion, and service. Whether serving as a health care provider, educator, or chapter volunteer, these nurses have played a critical role in improving the health of Oklahoma’s residents.
“The winners of this year’s Nurse of the Year awards are a testament to the caliber of nursing talent that is in our state,” said Laurie Applekamp, State Director for the March of Dimes. “We know that not only the winners, but the nominees and finalists alike, are truly committed to their patients and profession and are all making great strides in their respective fields.”
The event, chaired by Liz Michael, Vice President and CNO, Stillwater Medical Center, had over 400 attendees and raised over $80,000, making it one of the top Nurse of the Year events in the country.
Event partners included Title Sponsor, the LeNorman Family, Platinum Sponsor Mercy Hospital, and Silver Sponsor Stillwater Medical Center. Nurse of the Year Awards are given annually in approximately 20 award categories. More than 500 nurses were nominated in Oklahoma and 94 of those were selected as finalists. Award Recipients were announced at a special awards event held on Thursday, September 17, 2015 at the Embassy Suites in Norman.
Oklahoma’s 2015 Nurse of the Year Award Winners
Ann Kappen, INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center
Category: Advanced Practice,
Marcia Cordy, OU Medical Center
Category: Behavioral Health
Jackie Aguilar, Stillwater Medical Center
Category: Cardiology
April Adams, Duncan Regional Hospital
Category: Charge Nurse
Derek Biggs, INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center
Category: Critical Care
Mark J. Fisher, OU Health Sciences Center
Category: Education, sponsored by Tulsa Community College
Valerie Austin, INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital
Category: Emergency Services, sponsored by the LeNorman Family
Sandra Lawrence, Jack. C. Montgomery VA Medical Center
Category: General Medical/Surgical
Tamie Spring, Mercy Home Health
Category: Hospice, Home Health & Palliative Care, sponsored by Mercy Hospital
Cheri Oglesbee, Northeastern Health System
Category: Infection Control & Occupational Health
Amy Walkup, Shanoan Springs Nursing and Rehab
Category: Long Term Acute Care/Long Term Rehab, sponsored by Stillwater Medical Center
Haley Coppedge, Chickasaw Nation Ardmore Family Practice Clinic
Category: Managed Care, sponsored by UMB Bank
Kimberly Jenkins, Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City
Category: Neonatal/Pediatrics, sponsored by Mercy Hospital
Terri Preston, INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center
Category: Nursing Administration, sponsored by the LeNorman Family
Ellen Wardlaw, Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City
Category: Oncology, sponsored by American Fidelity Assurance Company
Sara Kernell, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic
Category: Public Health & Ambulatory Care
Susan Young, Mercy Hospital Ardmore
Category: Quality & Risk Management, sponsored by Bank 2
Alex Matlock, OU Medical Center
Category: Rising Star, sponsored by RCB Bank
Vicki Cantrell, INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital
Category: Surgical Services
April Loeffler, Saint Francis Hospital South
Category: Women’s Health, sponsored by Stillwater Medical Center
The award recipients were determined by a distinguished selection committee comprised of health care professionals who screened the nomination forms in a blinded review process.
The March of Dimes works to end premature birth and other problems that threaten our babies. We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. If something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the reasons why babies are born too soon or very sick and work on preventions.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Brandy Chaney, RN, fulfills her job as a clinical advocate at the Mercy NICU while knowing what it’s like for a family member to wait for word on their premature baby’s future.

by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer

Brandy Chaney, RN, knows first-hand the value of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City.
She found out she was having twins during her first six months of working there. Her babies ended up being patients in the NICU as well.
“So I always tell parents that I’ve been on both sides of the bedside, to where I’ve been the nurse and I’ve been the parent,” Chaney said. “I think that helps me a little bit in what I do.”
Her position as a clinical advocate allows her to educate nurses about new products. She serves as their advocate for bringing in new things so that they can do their best work possible for the babies they help.
She always wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse, but when she was doing her clinical work at nursing school, she spent some time in the NICU.
“Once I was here, I was sold and never wanted to do anything else,” Chaney said.
Her husband is a paramedic and they both say they are happy with their careers, thinking they would not be suited for each other’s careers. Chaney has been with Mercy for 15 years with 12 of those years at the NICU.
September was designated as Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month. Mercy Hospital continues to strive to meet the challenge for caring for delicate lives born at its NICU in Oklahoma City, said Shonna Cox, RN, assistant nurse manager.
“We have a level 3 nursery and I think we do a great job as advocating for babies to stay with parents as long as they can,” Cox said. “We have something called the Transition Nursery.”
The Transition Nursery was started within the last two years. If babies don’t necessarily need to be admitted to the NICU, they can go to the Transition Nursery and be looked after by an NICU nurse.”
Both women have been witness to hundreds of lives touched by Mercy. One of the latest babies was born at 22 weeks and five days into development.
“She was a triplet and she ended up being the only surviving one, but she’s been our youngest surviving one recently.”
Chaney said many of the infants grow up to become children who return to Mercy with their parents to say thank you. Christmas cards arrive every year filling a large double door.
“We actually have a NICU family Facebook page now,” Chaney said. “We see a lot of birthday pictures on there,”
Chaney’s own girls were born a pound apart. They are 11 years old now and are about 15 pounds apart in weight. They also differ in height by 5 inches.
Her experience helped her to be more empathetic as a nurse. She knows what it’s like to go home to an empty crib without her newborns.
Chaney said she always felt like she was leaving her babies with friends instead of at a hospital when she had to return home.
“I know, too, what it’s like to be hopeful that they’re coming home one day and now we’re looking at them being here another two weeks,” Chaney said. Infants in the NICU usually stay there from two days to six months.
The NICU runs as a well-oiled machine. Great cooperation and teamwork is a comment often heard by the NICU staff. The NICU has been super busy this last month with nurses coming in to work overtime every day, she said.
“It’s heartening to see how dedicated we all are in making sure all our babies are being taken care of,” Chaney said.
Mercy reinforces its system of care by equipping its nurses with the technology and continuing education that saves lives. Cooperation with other Mercy hospitals helps to make this possible, she explained.
They do quarterly reviews, presenting the best evidence-based research in the field. Emergency procedures must stay as up-to-date as possible to ensure optimal care.
Most NICUs have evolved into doing a family centered care model, Chaney continued. They focus as the family as a whole as the patient and not just the baby, she said.
“We have a whole series of education classes for the parents to help them be involved in the babies’ care,” Chaney said. “We’re changing policies all the time so they can do some of the things the nurses do. We’re working on training for the parents to do baths all the time so they don’t have to watch the nurse give their baby a bath.”
The hardest part is separating the parents from their babies. So anything the nurses can do to alleviate that is becoming more common in the NICU.
“We get to see that what we’re doing is not in vain,” she said. “There’s hard days. We have kids that don’t make it, that aren’t doing wonderful but they’re still out there.”
“We had another baby that was here for a long time and she went home for a month or two and she got sick. So we all got to help support her mom even when she wasn’t a patient here, but was a patient somewhere else. And that meant a lot to that mom. She expressed several times how much it meant to her that we were still supporting her.”

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Staci Deland, RN, stands in front of her paintings that add to her office décor. “Painting is very relaxing for me,” she states.

by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer

 

Meet Staci Deland, RN, Care Manager at the Indian Clinic in N.W. Oklahoma City, OK. Attending school at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, OK, Oklahoma City Community College and Metro Tech, both in Oklahoma City, OK, she worked at several hospitals over the years but knew that the Indian Clinic would be a perfect fit for her. “Those schools were great and I loved it.” she said. “I am Native American and the patients at the Indian Clinic really seem to open up and relate to me. It is nice when we have so much in common. I feel very fortunate to have this job and I enjoy it so much,” she adds.
Asking Deland if she had any mentors in school, she replies, “All of my teachers were my mentors and I appreciated each one of them. My friends in school soon became small groups and we would help each other. I think that my LPN friends were my biggest mentors. I am still in contact with some of those teachers and friends.”
Deland knew she would work in the medical field when she was little. “My grandmother was a nurse and she was always telling me how much she liked it. She would say, ‘Staci, you need to be a nurse.’ Everyone told me that I had the perfect personality since I liked being around others and taking care of them. I also had an aunt that was a nurse. I guess you could say that I was kind of pushed into it,” she says with a laugh.
Describing herself concerning her job, Deland says, “I am a very friendly person or so I am told. I work hard, doing the best job I can and I always stay positive. My favorite thing about my job is the fact that I get to talk to all of the patients. I want to learn new things and I always get very excited about learning.”
“In your opinion, what makes a good nurse?” I ask Deland. “I think a good nurse needs to have lots of patience. She needs to be flexible and realize the schedule will change at the last minute. A nurse needs to have diligence and be there for their patient. That person needs to be a good student and continue to give it their all. Also, going into the medical field gives someone so many options. There will some good days and some bad days but I can tell you for sure, the good days outweigh the bad. Just go into it telling yourself, I can do it!”
“The biggest challenge in the medical field right now is how the technology of the computer has changed everything so much,” Deland says. “There are a lot of changes going on right now and I am proud to say that I have become computer savvy. The advantages to the change in technology is how the patients are being taken care of and we, as in healthcare, can move forward.”
Deland tells me that her favorite part of the job is communicating with the patients and their families, relating to them in a special way. “It is so much fun when we hear the patients talking about the Native American and all of the tribes, parades, and Pow-Wows. Some of the patients can speak the language fluently,” she comments. “My grandmother is from the Native American tribe, Winnebago. She was fluent in the language at the age of 5 and now, she teaches the children to speak the language. I am proud of my heritage.”
“Do you have any hobbies,” I ask Deland. “Well, I am a big OU fan so I am excited about the football season. I love to paint pictures; it is very relaxing for me. I guess you could say that I am a musical/athlete because I play tennis and play the clarinet,” she states. “I am also expecting my first baby in January so I am getting ready to be a new mother soon so there is so much that goes along with having a baby.”
Asking Deland if she had any words to live by, she replied. “Be friendly, stay positive and enjoy life.”

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Felicia Lucas, LPN

By Felicia Lucas, LPN

“Are you the family of the cute, fat beagle of the neighborhood?” a young man in biker shorts and helmet asked me. The knock at the door had startled me, as it had been such a lazy Father’s Day, and my ex-husband was visiting with my son, Daniel and I that afternoon.
The cute, fat Beagle dog was named Rascal, and had been such a gift from God three years prior. My mother had just been diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and in an effort to relieve some of the emotional stress and pain we were going through, Daniel and I had stopped at a local pet store to “look” at some puppies. I had grown up around animals, and loved puppies and kittens, so I welcomed the reprieve from the anxiety of my mother’s fast approaching future.
Daniel and I both noticed the cute “Beagle” puppies, and I noted the price – $125.00!
When Daniel asked to hold one of the puppies, a certain one seemed to look at him in a way of “you’re finally here”. As he reached into the bin to pick him up, the “magical” bonding was instantaneous. I can’t explain it, but I was compelled to buy the puppy, who would not allow Daniel to let go of him – not that Daniel tried hard. He was like Velcro in his arms, and Daniel and he assumed the position of “spirit brothers” from that point on…I remarked that he was “sure a rascal”, and the name stuck. “Rascal”… although we should have named him “Houdini” as he always found a way to get out of our acreage that was securely fenced. We were constantly seeking new ways to block any measure of possible escape. No matter how long we watched out the window when he was outside, the moment we returned to our normal activity, we’d hear an “arooomp! aroomp!” and our Rascal would be howling after some rabbit or squirrel that had dared to enter into his view, and chasing it off down the street, outside the fenced- in back yard! We could NEVER find how he got out – we never located any hole no matter how many times we scoured the fence line! Eventually, the surrounding neighbors just accepted the fact that the “cute, fat Beagle” was the self appointed mascot of the neighborhood, and would wave to him as they drove slowly by. If truth be told, I think he adopted quite a few of the neighborhood kids, and was fed a lot of treats, which only encouraged his rebellious attitude against being “just a dog.” The other dogs of the neighborhood could be seen “talking” with him through their own fence lines, and, much to Rascal’s embarrassment, would bark and yelp loudly when I called for him from the front door.
As Rascal grew, so did the progression of my mother’s illness. When she could still hold and feel him, she would hold Rascal and state that he seemed to always “smell like a puppy”! He brought joy to the whole family during a difficult time, and would often come running when he would overhear me crying about the anticipated loss of my mother. After her passing, I continued Nursing School, and he would often wait up for me, greeting me after a long night of clinical studies. He often rolled over on his back, allowing me to practice hearing with my stethoscope, and was frequently rewarded with his favorite treat – hotdogs!
After my divorce, Rascal gave me the security I needed as he and I slept alone in our big, quiet house. Often, he would be waiting in the driveway if I should be “late” (past 10:00pm) in returning home, then, after giving me a stern look, would turn and walk silently toward the house…
On that Father’s Day morning, I had spent an unusual moment of “love” with Rascal, rubbing his stomach and telling him how much I appreciated all that he had meant to us, and he looked at me in that same “magical” look that he and Daniel had shared, and seemed to tell me that he loved me so much, too.
As I spoke with the young man at the door, I sensed an alarm in his voice as he inquired about our connection to the”cute, fat Beagle”. Since Daniel had left on his bike to visit his friend, my first thought was that Rascal had somehow followed him outside and was roamin’ the streets of our quiet neighborhood again. “He’s just been hit by a jeep, and I think he’s hurt!” Everything moved in slow motion, as I ran outside the front door. There, in the middle of the road, lay my 3 year old baby, Rascal. He didn’t move, and I couldn’t grasp mentally if he were dead. I, an end-of-life nurse, who had so many times held the hand of a dying person, and noted the very moments of last breath and life of a human being, couldn’t discern if he was breathing, if he had a pulse… His pupils appeared fixed, and he wasn’t responsive – but how could I know? He had brown emesis flowing from his mouth, and I comforted him with love and soft words, as my ex-husband lifted him into the back seat of the car to transport him to a nearby animal hospital. As I rode in the back seat with him, I slowly began to realize that maybe, maybe, he was dying, or had already died… I began to do what I had encouraged so many families of my patients to do at the last moments of the living – talking to him, thanking him for his life, love and loyalty to me and “his” family… and saying goodbye. When we arrived at the animal hospital, the blur of the technician, and my clumsy questions of “are you sure he’s gone?” seemed like a dream as he lifted Rascal out of the car… The technician allowed me to use his stethoscope as I , like so many times before, listened to his heart…I was in a daze as the tech explained that city ordinances would not allow us to bury him on our property, and he discussed disposal options with us…
I couldn’t stop crying as we headed home to find Daniel, and of course we all mourned our loss together…
The grief was fresh on my mind the next morning as I prepared to meet an elderly patient that I cared for. It was my day off, and I had volunteered to assist in obtaining a mammogram of her at a nearby diagnostic clinic, since she had no family, and our facility’s transporter was unable to stay with residents at appointments. I met Mamie* and the transport van at the clinic, and sat quietly with her as we waited her turn for the xray procedure.
Mamie was a quiet woman with the bluest eyes I had ever seen. She was always smiling and cooperative, but never spoke. Alzheimer’s Disease had taken a toll on her, and it was unsure if she could, or ever would, speak. She just seemed to quietly observe her surroundings throughout the lively days of the facility where she resided, and where I was employed as a care coordinator.
I had noted a lump on her right breast a few days prior, and a mammogram was needed to evaluate it. I held her hand as we were taken to the exam room for testing. As I began to undress her and place the pink drape over her, she remained trusting as I explained, again, that we had to let the “lady” look at her breast and take a picture.
While we waited, I couldn’t get Rascal off of my mind, and I couldn’t stop myself from sharing the story with Mamie. As I began sharing the events of the previous day with Mamie, she just sat and smiled, looking off with those blue eyes in her private world as usual. With an exasperating sigh, I commented; “Oh, Mamie, do you think animals go to Heaven?” In a movement that paralleled the familiar “magic” of Rascal , she turned her head toward me and looked straight into my eyes. As she mesmerized me with those crystal blues, she opened her mouth and voiced the only words I have ever heard her speak: “Well, of course they do!”
I’m not sure if I was stunned at her speaking, or at the confirmation that I felt I had heard straight from Heaven – but I was overwhelmed with the peace that my beloved Rascal would be with me again. Not in this world, but forever in the next…
It’s been 12 years since I last heard that “aroomp! aroomp!” from the cute, fat Beagle that just couldn’t help being “such a dog”. Occasionally, I relive those last moments with him over and over, but with peace, I also relive that moment with Mamie, who was every bit “my nurse” that morning.
(If you have a favorite nursing story, please send to Oklahoma’s Nursing Times. Be sure to include your permission to share. News@new.oknursingtimes.com)

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“I would be on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ so I would have the opportunity to win BIG money!” Sherelle McCuller, LPN

“It would be the show ‘Wheel of Fortune’.  Why?  So, I could win money for my son’s college expenses.” Charlotte Newkirk, RN

“Price is Right’ because I watched it with my grandma.” Rhonda Spears, RN

I would be on ‘Impractical Jokers’ because I like to have a good time and make people laugh.” Ashley Cochenour, LPN

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Q. I am 34 and totally stressed out working in corporate America. When I had to add an anti-anxiety medication to face my cubicle, I knew this was not a good fit. What I find interesting is the number of people who have made negative comments about my choice to do something fun even if it means making less money. Why do people have to be so negative?

A. The fact that you became alarmed at your growing anxiety and need for medication to get through your work day is life saving. Your body is telling you that you are paying a high price to work for this company. It is one thing to get up in the morning and take a vitamin but needing anti-anxiety medication to function for the next eight hours is crazy.
So kudos to you!!!
There will always be people who see the glass as half empty and voice negative comments. It is disappointing when people think we do not have the brains to write a different life script. Life is not “One size fits all.” Some people are risk takers, some stay securely inside the box and some are curious about what else might be out there.
We cannot accept taking medication in order to cope with our jobs as the norm.
When I left my job with the State of Oklahoma, making a good salary with good benefits but bored out of my mind; only one person encouraged me to take the risk to do something that I felt passionate about. I was a single mother with a five year old child that I had to provide for but I was losing myself in “my cubicle.” Five months into the job I knew the fit was wrong; my frequent trips to the cafeteria when I was not hungry was at least something to do.
Nine months was all I could do. I left my salary, benefits and boredom and pursued my dream. I had one person who thought my mental, emotional and physical health was a priority over big money. It is not rocket science that money does not buy happiness but it does buy medications and co-pays for doctor’s appointments.
We cannot stay in a bad situation and except medication to make it all better. It might make it tolerable but that is not better. It buys time until the next symptom appears. Like it or not, the body will always let us know if we are in a bad place.
So for all those people out there who are negative about your choices remember that is a reflection of their fears and anxieties. It is not about you. The box is a home for many.

Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City

If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at news@okcnursingtimes.com

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