Boston Marathon: Tears of Relief and Tears of Sorrow

Like the rest of us, I grieve for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, and am thankful for the rapid response of the health care providers who were suddenly thrust into a scenario resembling a war zone.

I found out about the attack moments after the bombs went off, by turning on the TV. I had come home early from the clinic, because our census was low. Earlier in the morning, I told my coworkers that my cousin was running the Boston Marathon. Now I wondered where was he? Were he and his partner safe?

You can imagine my relief when he quickly responded to my text, “I’m ok.”

I called my Mom, to let her know too.

Soon afterwards, my cousin posted the same message on Facebook. Dozens of friends and family expressed relief.

I am grateful for the safety of my family. My heart breaks for those who were not as fortunate, and are suffering still. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the teams responding to this senseless emergency.

Love and Hands

photo by jparadisi 2010

Last week I had a manicure before leaving town. While each finger was polished with French tips, I thought about how much I love my hands. The painter Georgia O’Keeffe had beautiful hands, and her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, photographed them for the world to appreciate. My hands are not particularly beautiful. If I hold them out straight, the long, thin fingers on the left curve a little west and the ones on the right curve a little east. I have small hands, like a child’s. My sister teases that when I am very old, they will be as dry and bony as a sparrow’s clawed feet, and I know that she is right.

Still, I love my hands, for what they do. My hands can start an IV, or deftly place a needle into a chest port. They expertly wrap wounds or cool a fevered brow. My hands can press a chest to keep the heart within it beating so well that a physician once remarked during a code, “It is too bad that a life can not be saved by perfect blood gas results alone, because this patient is receiving superb CPR.” With a pencil or brush, my hands can capture the likeness of a face on paper, or sculpt a figure out of clay. I have hands that work for a living. They are tools of expression.

The next day, my fingers with the beautiful French tips, wrap themselves around the twine handles of a bag that hold the ashes of my father, and the same hands carry them to the boat from which my family honors his request to scatter them on the sea. My hands trembled a little as I read the eulogy. After I finished, they wiped tears from my eyes.  Suddenly, the boat roughly lurched forward. I was thrown off balance and reached out to steady myself, but there was no rail for my hands to grasp. My brother’s strong hands reached out for me, pulling me to safety, and held me close.  “I’ve got you, I’ve got you, you’re not going overboard,” he spoke into my ear, as I cried into his chest.

The most important thing about anyone’s hands is their ability to hold.

The H1N1 Vaccine: I Took One for the Team


Romeo & Juliette

Romeo & Juliette 2009 oil on unstretched canvas artist: JParadisi


 This post is in response to  a post by Shawn Kennedy MA, RN, interim editor-in-chief of the AJN blog,  Off the Chart. Read the original post here:

     I stood in line and took the H1N1 vaccine.

     I didn’t do it out of guilt, or because of media induced panic. When it came down to it, I did it because of a child I love, and for a close family member who is pregnant. That’s all. I don’t want to catch the virus at work, and give it to either of these people.  So far, my arm hasn’t fallen off or anything. 

     I respect every health care worker’s right to make their own decision about the vaccine.  Of course, all kinds of parallels can be drawn from this issue, including the rights of smokers to smoke, the right to drink soda without taxation, the right to drive without a seat belt, be overweight, or ride a bicycle without a helmet. 

    One characteristic of effective conflict resolution between two parties is to stay issue focused. Otherwise, indeed, “slippery-slope” thinking occurs.  A health care worker may not want the H1N1 vaccination, but be pro-life.  One doesn’t necessarily support the other.  

     I agree, the arguments are similar, but one issue at a time, please.

(late entry/clarification: I am not advocating for the above listed behaviors.  I think that not smoking is probably the single most  important thing an idividual can do to stay healthy. The list simply illustrates that we live in a society which creates laws regarding personal freedoms.)