You may not know this, but 2014 was one of the worst years of my life.
I lost my son in 2011. That was the 2nd worst year of my life. The worst year in my life was 2012, which was when I figured out that my son was never, ever coming back. I know, you don’t get that. I am glad you don’t. Hey, this is my son. I don’t share a lot of pictures of him. He is intensely personal to me, and at the same time I want to show him off to everyone.
Alex was brilliant, but more importantly, he was the embodiment of kindness. His best friend is on the autism spectrum. He lives with me now, and he is going to college. Because Alex would have wanted me to take him into our family and love him. His friend didn’t receive a whole lot of love and stability, and Alex knew it. Because Alex did. His very best friends were special needs kids who were in mainstream classes in his high school. He was a champion of the angry, the tormented, the bullied, and the suicidal. His lunch table was a combination of these kids, the popular kids, the musical kids, the anime kids, the gay kids, and the kids who just wanted to be in his circle. He was 100% authentic Alex. Everyone loved him.
And I will never see him again.
I took a job in 2014 with the VA, because my father in law asked me to take a job taking care of vets like him before he died in 2012. After the minute by minute torture of the previous three years, I did not need what happened to me next. Bullying, lateral violence, and actual physical assault. And my choice was to shut my mouth and finish my 2 year probationary period or leave the VA, contrary to what my father in law asked me to do.
I stayed in that department for a whole year, before I transferred to my current, wonderful job, with my lovely and inclusive coworkers.
However….This new Janie is not a happy person. She fakes it a lot. She pretends. She doesn’t cry because she cannot stop. She keeps her head down and doesn’t talk about the pain.
The Janie of post February 18, 2011 is a broken, awful husk of a human. That Janie has panic disorder with agoraphobia, and PTSD. That Janie is overweight, an emotional wreck, and has lost everything.
I have endeavored to be as kind as my Alex. This is the way for me to honor his memory. I love all of you because you gave me the opportunity to do good in the world. You have gathered in Show Me Your Stethoscope to change healthcare. The kindest and most useful thing I can think of is to advocate for every patient in America by advocating for their nurses and support staff.
2015 was the best year in my life after 2011. Because of you. And 2016 has just begun.
So, this is a soppy, personal blog. Not everyone will like it. Some of you won’t even be interested. However, I am interested in you. I care about you. I want to see all of your kindness shine through as we fix staffing for the vulnerable patients we care for.
So, there is another piece of me, SMYS.
I hope the read wasn’t too painful.