Why me? A question that has plagued me for forty-one years. A question I've asked myself and never knew the answer till now. A question that has caused pain, doubt, fear, inner strength and ultimately helped define my life. A question I now know so many others have asked themselves. Welcome to my question, hopefully it will offer assurance to those who read it that you are not alone.
I was seventeen, pregnant and terrified. I turned eighteen, developed preterm labor and myself and my unborn child faced death. I ended up on life support, along with my daughter who was born eight weeks premature. We both received intensive care and she would spend the first thirty-three days of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit fighting for her life. Why me?
Five years later, at a pre-kindergaten school physical, the doctor heard an abnormal heart beat. After multiple diagnostic tests, open heart surgery was scheduled for my now five year old who had already overcome such a traumatic birth. How could this be happening again? Why me?
Fast forward seven years. Now a mother of two daughters, facing a divorce and the daunting task of raising to girls alone. I entered Nursing school at Penn State University. I endured hundreds of hours of classes, sleepless nights doing homework. I had to look into my daughters eyes many times and say, we don't have enough money for food, new clothes, heat for our home or hot water to take showers. Mommy can't afford anitbiotics for your illness. We made do with what food I could buy. We layered clothes on our bodies to stay warm. I heated pots of water on the stove and carried them to the bathroom so we could sponge bathe. We made it, I graduated and now I was a Nurse. Why me?
I traveled the country, from Alaska to Miami, to California working as a RN. I saw such diversity in culture in the lives of the patients I took care of. I worked with staff and patients from around the world. I was privileged to be a part of many births and deaths. Life altering diseases and traumatic injuries became my daily existence. Patients and their families relying on me and my skills to heal, care, comfort, listen and support them on their journey in life and death. Many times I would come home after a shift at the hospital forever changed by the human experiences I was a part of. Such unnecessary pain and suffering. Why me?
I was devoted to my profession. I was proud of my skills and recognized the responsibility and accountability of being a Nurse. I was working at a hospital on a travel assignment. Typical to many of the previous assignemnts I had been on, this assignment started out like all the others. This one would turn out quite differently. A physician at this hospital had a reputation for being very hostile and verbally abusive to the nursing staff. For years, many nurses filed grievences against this doctor for his unprofessional and abusive behavior. The hospital chose to ignore the complaints because the doctor was a power, influential and successful physician who generated a lot of money for the hospital. I soon became the victim of his behavior. I endured countless verbal attacks, unsolicited sexual comments and stalking. The hospital refused to acknowledge my complaints of his behavior and how it was affecting my ability to do my job as a nurse. I quit, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit and endured countless attacks on my character and professionalism. In the end, justice was served. Why me?
Now it was 2012. Life was good, really good. I was living in California. I was transitioning my career into nonprofit work for women and children globally. I was engaging in collaborative work to help bring awareness to healthcare needs globally for maternal/infant healthcare. I felt compelled to use my nursing experience on a global level. That all stopped one night in January. The man I had been in a relationship decided to commit an act of domestic violence on me that almost took my life. I would spend weeks in a domestic violence shelter while fighting to have this man arrested and brought to justice. The legal system beat me down further. I refused to allow this man to get away with the crime he committed against me. In the end, he was convicted, but I still felt I paid for his crimes with my life. I suffered from PTSD and had to relocate across the country and start my life over again. Why me?
Today, April 8 2013. I have the answer to my question, why me. Why, we live in a world where women and children die unnecessarily because they do not have access to basic healthcare. We live in a world where women are more likely to die from violence than disease. We live in a world where sex trafficking young girls and rape is tolerated by governments. I have faced and overcome many gender based obstacles, but always felt isolated and alone. Why me, because it is time to utilize my pain and suffering and bring awareness to the issues women face daily globally. I, we as women, need to unite, allow our VOICES to RISE and evoke the change and awareness that needs to occur so that we all our one!