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It’s a Shrimp




It’s a shrimp.  Jeanette was holding a shrimp as a warning to me after I disclosed how very allergic I was to shrimp.  I had only known her for a day but she didn’t waste time ‘getting to know’ anyone.  If you were on her radar, you had instant access to her heart.

We met when I made a site visit to Meritian, a non-profit organization devoted to Human Services.   They really get that they do not sell what they do as much as who they are and they take care of each other in addition to patients.

Jeannette stopped to visit with me while I worked and told me how she and her husband were engaged in a little DIY dialysis in the evenings after work.  In the back of my mind I was considering that I needed to get some more work done while I still had access to their computer system but something told me it was more important to listen to Jeannette.  Her diagnosis list was extensive but it did not match up with the woman who was full of life with a fantastic sense of humor.  I’m glad I took the time.

She knew that she could go on disability and that she would qualify for Medicare by virtue of her end stage renal disease.  Unlike so many others, Jeannette was not forced to work for her insurance benefits after being diagnosed with life threatening illnesses.

Still, she had to work, she said.  What else would she do?  That was her question to me.  Not knowing her well or long, I could hardly answer her question but she wasn’t expecting an answer.

As it turns out, there was no response to her question as she died on Tuesday.  That’s pretty much what she wanted; to be spared what she considered to be a useless life.

In an organization like Meritan, the longevity of the staff means that they mostly spend more time with each other than they do with family.  Many of the staff have been together for over a decade.  Losing a nurse goes far beyond losing a coworker, colleague or friend.  My friends at Meritan lost a family member when Jeannette died.

I have no doubt that Jeannette will soon resume her status In Memoriam as a nurse who refused to be defined by illness but for now, I am sure that your prayers will be welcomed by her families – the one at home and the one at Meritan.

You have escaped the cage. Your wings are stretched out. Now fly.




5 Comments Post a comment

  1. Wonderful story. Love, humor, and industry. A great American. Thx for sharing.

    July 24, 2014
    • jan Treptow #

      I was very touched by the legacy left by “It’s a Shrimp.” As nurses, most of us do not think of nursing as a job or a career…it is our calling, our life. Jeanette’s story is the epitome of how selfless and engaging her life was and how many other lives she touched. I found it inspiring, full of love and courage and grateful that Jeanette lived her life for herself and others. She is an example of how one person can make a big difference in today’s busy world. I am glad you took the time to talk to her and then share her story with us.

      July 28, 2014
  2. Delaine Henry #

    Beautifully written Julianne. What an honor to know nurses who have such passion for their calling. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet her. I will extend prayers to her loved ones.

    July 24, 2014
  3. Michael Sipes RN #

    Prayers, sympathy and celebration going out to her families. Thanks for sharing.

    July 24, 2014

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