Life, Death and Chickenpox.

chickenpoxChickenpox under a microscope.

We don’t see chickenpox much anymore, thanks to the varicella vaccine. Chickenpox is highly contagious, airborne and can also spread through contact with infected blisters before they crust over. For most patients it is an itchy annoyance. For other’s, chickenpox is anything but…

When I was a child my older brother brought home the pox. My mom quarantined him to bed with his door shut until he was on the downside of his very high fevers. Then she sighed and told me to take him his dinner tray and “rub his arms and get it over with.” My brother  got very angry when I told him I had been instructed to rub his rash, but we complied and sure enough, in three days I had chickenpox too.

For me, it was just the itchy rash and not being allowed to play outside. The death penalty for a kid who played outside, all day, everyday. A very serious annoyance.

For a patient I received out of the Intensive Care Unit to my Med-Surg ward in 1990 it was far more.

In my shift report I was receiving a patient who was being discharged from ICU to our unit with a diagnosis of Chickenpox! This patient was a 32 year-old male who had been in the unit for three weeks on a ventilator.

The lesions in his lungs had finally cleared up, he was off the vent and breathing on his own, but still very weak and in need of supportive nursing care and medications.

I got him settled in to his room, checked that IV site was fine, marked when it would need a site rotation, put his fluids back on a pump all the while chatting with this nice young man.

I was absolutely shocked to find out that he had simply gone to work one day and a co-worker with a sick kid had brought that child to work with her instead of calling out sick.

You guessed it, the kid had chickenpox and this young man never had. Varicella is much worse in an adult than in kids and this man soon had varicella lesions not just in his mouth, but in his lungs, got pneumonia and almost died. The three weeks in ICU and ventilator support had saved his life.

Well, nurses talk. And this good-looking young man who was almost killed by an inconsiderate co-worker was the talk of our nurses station. Unless you work in orthopedic/sports medicine having  attractive young men as patients is the exception, not the norm, and we went wild spoiling him during his stay on our floor.

I might know of a few nurses who snuck down the stairs to the pediatric ward to “swipe” ice cream sandwiches out of the freezer for him! But I admit to NOTHING!

We talked. And we judged. How DARE this woman take a kid with an infectious disease to work with her? didn’t she KNOW she may have KILLED someone? How could she have been so STUPID? Or was she just an IDIOT?

We absolutely trashed this woman not a one of us knew.

I regret those foolish words now. As an older woman who now has children I feel terrible for that unknown woman. Now I know what it’s like to be put in an impossible situations.

Why did she take that sick kid to work?

Is it possible that she was a single mother who had been told that one more call-out would cost her job?

Is it possible that her paycheck was the only thing standing between her kids and hunger or homelessness?

Is it possible that she didn’t know her child was still infectious?

Is it possible she simply had no idea how serious chickenpox could actually be? After all, her kid just had an itchy annoying rash.

And it is highly unlikely that as a co-worker she was unaware of what had happened as a result of her bad decision. She had to know how sick this man was after he was hospitalized and missed well over a month of work. I can not imagine her personal guilt and self-condemnation.

It is possible that the boss made the connection between her child and her co-worker and she paid consequences for that action.

And it is possible that other co-workers treated her in person, the same way a floor of nurses did, with judgment and condemnation.

Now interestingly enough, this young man never did. I was changing out his IV one afternoon and asked him if he was angry at this woman. I was expecting a juicy rant but what I got was, “No, why? It was not her fault. How was she supposed to know I had never had chickenpox? Sh*t happens!”

That was all he had to say about the matter.

As I’ve grown over the years from a know-it-all 20 year old, into a woman, a mother, a person who has had to choose between very bad options I remember that nice young man and his attitude.

Yes, STUFF HAPPENS! And it happens to everyone, all the time. Sometimes there is no good choice, sometimes the actions of other people will determine a bad road you get to drive no matter how much you try to steer towards an exit.

But we get to choose our attitude and words. We get to choose to either blame and condemn or not. We get to choose to wallow in misery or “blow it off” with a phrase as this man did.

And I believe this young man’s refusal to give in to blame and bitterness, to shrug off a brush with death and laugh and say, “Sh*t happens!” is why he survived and recovered.

And not just for this situation. I guarantee you that man has survived and thrived! And he probably continues to set a good example for those around him of a positive attitude and good choices.


Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.    Matthew 5:7

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.           Mathew 6:14

Remembering Randomly…

angelPhoto courtesy of Zan Phillips Photography, Jackson, Mississippi.


My Honored Guest Blogger today hails from Mississippi. It is not a pattern here folks, just a lot of artistic talent comes out of the deep south and I am blessed to be connected to the source! Amy Hines is a gifted writer, artist, and graphic designer. In fact, she had a blog before blogs were cool! I am very pleased to share one of her posts with you today and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Remembering Randomly

I’m a prayer, if I say I’m going to pray for you I will. Or at least that is my sincere intention.

As a prayer, one of the worst things that has ever happened to me was someone thanking me for praying for them– when I hadn’t. I was mortified, horrified, and victimized. I usually responded with something like, “I’m glad you are:” A. Better, B. things worked out, C. still alive, or D. All of the above. Then I would feel terrible that I had not actually prayed for you. I would pull out my “bad-Christian” banner and wear it for a bit. Meanwhile, guilt, condemnation and Shame would cheer and snuggle up a little deeper.

Surely I’m not the only one who has ever experienced this? I can’t be the lone non-prayer? If there were a non-prayer’s anonymous, I’m confident I would not be the only one attending the meeting, right?

For the most part, this is no longer an issue because I pray on the spot.

Note: if you attempt the on-the-spot method, be careful. This will freak some people out! Also this only works if all parties are willing participants, and please, use your manners!

I forget lots of things- especially things with dates, like birthdays, and I know the reason I forget things.

I’m human.

My brain is a little tired.

I am busy, busy. That is an entirely different topic of discussion. I think we need an after school special on “BUSY: A Life Sucking Vermin”. Sigh, moving on…

I’m much better than I’ve ever been. I’ve made some changes. I pray randomly throughout the day, because that is what works for me. I use post-it notes. I’ve cut back or eliminated things that sucked my time, all good stuff.

unfortunately, there still is the rare occasion where something slips past my radar. It doesn’t happen often but it did happen this morning. Several hours after the cheers of the GCS  ( guilt, condemnation ,shame) triple threat died down, a guy I know randomly crossed my mind. I stopped and prayed for him. Randomly, after I finished praying, I remembered when Paul was chatting with Timothy and the folks in Philippi and said, “at every remembrance of you…” (Phil 1:3)

That’s a lot of random and remembering in a short time. That’s Smokey and the Bandit fast.

“At every remembrance of you” is me-speak for “whenever you cross my mind”. I like that. It’s organic and easy. There is a simplicity and a flow to it.

Paul then follows that up with, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in your will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

To me, that is him saying, “I pray for you when I think about you, but regardless, God’s has GOT THIS. PERIOD.”

There’s freedom in that. You never had to take the floor at a NPA meeting and confess your sin. Your off the hook trying to remember every detail, freed from the guilt of forgetting and confident in knowing God will always help you randomly remember.


Thank you Amy for such refreshing honesty! I to have forgotten at times, the guilt is crushing.  I carry a notepad every where I go and write my prayers now. For myself and for other’s. Your name is in my prayer journal more than once, dear friend!

The photo used with this post is again, courtesy of Zan Phillips, Jackson Mississippi. Please visit her Facebook page for more incredible images or to contact  Zan.

God Grant me the Serenity…


Photo courtesy of Zan Phillips Photography, Jackson, Mississippi. Please visit Zan on Facebook to see more of her wonderful work.

God Grant me the serenity…

Such richness in this sentence, five simple words.

First as we address God, we acknowledge our Higher Power. The only power who has power to restore us.

Second, we ask for a grant. To grant means to bestow or confer, especially by a formal act or to agree or accede to a request.

Third, we are asking for ourselves. We are not focusing on anyone or anything but our own need, our own circumstance, our own heart.

And fourth we are requesting serenity. God’s own peace to be granted to us. But does God just give us serenity? Is it gift wrapped and handed out Christmas morning? Can God’s peace be poured over a restless heart and instantly soothe or is there some part we must play? Does water poured into a cracked pot stay or run out?

I think the key to being able to hold God’s peace in our heart lies in the next sentence of our prayer: to accept.

The key to being able to receive God’s grant of serenity is to accept it. No gift can be bestowed on an unwilling heart.

To accept that His peace surpasses our circumstances, our emotions and our powerlessness. To accept that our Higher Power is in control of each and every situation.

And once we do that, we are able to accept the priceless gift of serenity.


Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come to thee.         Job 22:21

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.      Philippians 4:7  NKJV


This post is an excerpt from Alana’s book, The Little Engine who Could Not… available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback.

Photo courtesy of Zan Phillips, please see Zan’s FB page for more examples of her amazing photography.