Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Doctor/Nurse (11/02/06)
- TITLE: Full Circle
By Myrna Noyes
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Red, wrinkled, squirming, and squalling, I made my noisy entrance into this world that dark November day! To an ordinary observer, I was not a particularly pretty sight; but to my mother, her firstborn daughter was the most beautiful baby in the world. At that moment of my nativity, she began her unofficial career as a nurse.
When I was a demanding infant, Mom nursed me at her breast, with that perfectly formulated mother’s milk containing health-promoting colostrum, rich nutrition, and protective antibodies. She walked me and rocked me to soothe my uncomfortable colic, and tenderly put ointment and powder on my painful, burning diaper rash.
Throughout my lively childhood, Mom gently nursed my bloody scrapes with soap, water, and stinging antiseptic and bandaged the cuts I acquired when my knees and hands met rocks and sidewalks. She nursed my bruised ego with comforting words when I failed at something, and she consoled my hurt feelings with healing hugs when friends made fun of me. When I was ill with colds, fevers, and the flu, she’d take my temperature and administer aspirin as she patiently nursed me back to health with hot chicken noodle soup, cough medicine, 7-Up to calm my tummy, and cold cloths for my forehead.
During my trying teen years, Mom nursed my varied “wounds of the world” with the balm of wise advice and loving embraces. She was there when I cried from grief, anger, frustration, or disappointment.
After I was born, four other children had come along, and her “nursing” skills improved with much practice. She was “on duty” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no pay and no benefits but the love of her children. Many of those years she also had a job outside the home, so was often overworked and overtired, but still was always there to meet our needs.
Years passed, and I grew up, married, and had children of my own. On another dark November day, my parents called and stunned my heart with the news that my mother had been to the doctor that afternoon because she had recently found a lump in her breast. Suspicious symptoms pointed to the worst.
The resulting diagnosis: advanced cancer, stage four, spread to the lymph nodes.
The future prognosis: not encouraging. Surgery, chemo, radiation suggested.
My frightened mom agreed to surgery, a radical mastectomy; but said “no” to the chemo and radiation. Because of other recent family tragedies, she said she was not emotionally strong enough to face those options. During her recovery from the operation, I went to stay with her and dad for a week to cook, clean, and care for them both. I prayed to God she would be all right now.
Only a little over a month later, her back began to hurt, with increasing intensity, until she eventually had trouble walking. We hoped it meant nothing, but it was definitely something—and mom knew it in her heart. Tests were done. The creeping cancer had burrowed into her bones. Gently, the doctor told us it was terminal and advised mom to get her affairs in order soon. When we got home from the visit, she went immediately to bed and told Dad and me tearfully that she had the best family ever.
During those next several weeks, I spent much more time at their house, where I bathed, dressed, and fed Mom, massaged her legs and arms with lotion, combed her tangled hair, and got her drinks of juice and water when she wanted them—the very things she used to do for me. The cycle of blessing had come full circle, and she who had cared for me was now being cared for by me. She who had nursed me when I came into this world, was being nursed by me as she was leaving it. Weak, thin, pale, drugged, and in constant discomfort, she may not have been a particularly pretty sight to the ordinary observer, but to her firstborn daughter she was the most beautiful mother in the world.
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