Have You Ever Felt Lost or Helpless?

Many of us within the fire service think and act as though we believe ourselves to be immortal.

Many of us within the fire service think and act as though we believe ourselves to be immortal. Each of us likes to think that we are up to handling whatever challenge might be hurled at us as we speed down the road to our next assignment. We constantly seek to push the envelope in order to get the job done.

Yes my friends, we tend to live life, and fight fire as though we were somehow invincible. Many times I have personally fallen victim to this false, but fleeting sense of infallibility. However, it is not only fire service folks who feel immune from the negative aspects of life.

My dear wife Jackie is a person supremely confident in her abilities as a health care professional. Over the years, she has proven herself to be one of the best nurses around. Of course I might be forgiven for a bit of bias in this instance.

Jackie has been a nurse for the better part of the last 35 years. She initially graduated from a three-year diploma nursing school, with an old-fashioned, hospital-based nursing education. She then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an Ivy League school (The University of Pennsylvania) and then a master's degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Jackie's nursing background runs the gamut from specialty work in the Shea Eye Clinic at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to the classroom as an instructor at her nursing school alma mater, Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey. She then spent 20 years as a labor and delivery nurse at Freehold Area Hospital, now known as the CentraState Medical Center. She has learned to accept responsibility and exercise her judgment in a wide variety of challenging situations.

During the early 1990's Jackie felt that it was time to make a change in the direction of her working life. She returned to Trenton State College to earn her school nursing certification. Since 1992 she has served as the school nurse at the Wall Intermediate School, in Wall Township, New Jersey.

My wife is used to being in charge. She has served during the delivery of literally hundreds of babies. She has been responsible for the welfare of thousands of children as they passed through the Intermediate School. Many have been the trials she has faced and many the problems she has solved.

Think about it my friends. One of her other primary challenges for the past 32 years has involved being a practicing health care professional, all the while keeping an eye on me. As you might imagine, I have been a real tough nut for Jackie to crack. My friends, she is the best wife imaginable.

Recently she suffered a short-term setback. She suffered a broken arm as a result of a job related accident at school. It stopped her dead in her tracks. I can recall the day that I had to pick her up at the school and drive her to the worker's compensation doctor for the school board.

She was not sure if the arm was broken or sprained. All she knew was that it hurt. The x-rays told the story. She had broken her arm up near the elbow. She was not a happy camper and, like I said, she was in pain.

Jackie had instantly been transported from a position of independence to a place of dependence; where she needed someone else to drive her around. My wife values her independence. Jackie was suddenly forced from her comfort zone into a whole new world of dependence. I can tell you that she was not happy at all about this turn of events.

The next day dawned to find her on the way to the orthopedic surgeon. She had a break in the upper end of her forearm where it meets the elbow. The doctor gave her a list of no-no's that was quite long. It included no driving, no lifting, and no going to work. So it went for the first few weeks.

Jackie was quite upset that she was not able to get to work at the school and catch up on her paperwork. She had not fully completed her health-related records for all of the 1,100-plus students in her school when the accident occurred.

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