Where I see myself…

Recently on one of my social media accounts, I stumbled upon an article about a program in Cleveland, Ohio targeted at the low-income black communities who are suffering from very high infant mortality rates. First of all, to be honest when I hear the term “infant mortality” I think about third world countries without clean running water and inconsistent healthcare, but on second thought that actually sounds a lot like this country (google “Flint water-crisis” and United States healthcare issue) so should I be surprised?

The answer, I think should be: yes. This should be our answer than that means we have become comfortable with injustice and that is very scary. So yes, I am surprised that there are places in this country where newborn babies are dying at alarming rates due to gaps in the healthcare system. Now, if you visit my about page you will see that I am an aspiring nurse practitioner. Oftentimes when I tell my friends of family that I want to be a nurse practitioner the next question is usually: why don’t you just become a doctor? The short answer is, “Because I don’t want to be a doctor.” The long answer is related to what a nurse practitioner does, how they fit into the healthcare community and how much they could help fill in the (many) gaps in healthcare.

Ohio has the highest instances of infant mortality in this country. Most of these infant deaths happen in the African American community. It is more than apparent that the reason behind African Americans being over represented is because of the the high levels of poverty. The program that I mentioned earlier, would send nurses to low-income new mothers for a year. The nurse would visit for a year monitoring the progress of the infant and the mother as well as providing support to these mostly young, single new moms. The people involved in funding this program and implementing it deserve to be applauded. This sound like it will do wonders for not only the future of the community but for the young women raising the future.

This news really inspired me. Sometimes it feels really overwhelming to think about all the things I will need to do just to get into nursing school (GRE, pre-reqs, applications) and then the difficulty of nursing school itself, but when I read things like this I feel such a sense of positivity, determination and hope because it represents what I want to do with my career. This program represents exactly what I hope to one day be a part of. I cannot change the world but I know one day I will be able to make things at least a little bit better for someone and that is what keeps me going.

 

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Today at Costco…

It wasn’t exactly today, it was on Saturday but I like my title. I think it sounds cool.

Anyway, I am off topic and you are probably wondering what happened at Costco on Saturday. If you have visited my About page you know that I am from New York-New York City to be exact. Whatever busy city images that pop up in your head in association with the Big Apple are correct. NYC is a crazy place. Especially on a Saturday evening, especially at Costco on a Saturday evening.

So there I was at Costco on a Saturday evening, dodging running kids, jumping out of the way of aggressive shopping cart drivers and enjoying the excessive decadence of groceries being sold in bulk. It was my usual Saturday evening.

Now, whenever I go to Costco on a Saturday, I am sure to encounter droves of children and their overwhelmed parents. It is the weekend ritual of grocery shopping with mom and dad, accompanied with the nosiness and excitement of being at basically a warehouse grocery store. Kids at Costco are my favorite things to observe (along with the sample stations), especially the babies and toddlers. I love watching them follow the noisy patrons with their big curious eyes and kick their legs as they ride facing their parents in the shopping carts. They are excited and have no idea how mundane the act of food shopping truly is.

This night at Costco, I saw a baby that looked a little different than the ones I was used to seeing at Costco or anywhere else. He was a regular baby, for the most part. He was smiling and drooling. His big black eyes locked with mine instantly. When I smiled at him he smiled even wider and giggled. His mother even joined the action smiling at me smiling at her adorable little boy. This adorable little boy was perfect even the unique birthmark that I immediately noticed on his face was perfect. It did not make his smile any less bright or his tiny little giggle any less delightful. The birthmark did none of those things, it did however make me think.

At first it made me think about an article I had read a few days earlier. The article was about an equally adorable girl from Australia who had a GoFundMe started in her honor by her parents to help pay for surgery to remove her birthmark (check it out). This little girl named Ruby (one of my favorite names) had the same birthmark as the little boy from Costco. The birthmark called Congenital Melanocytic Nevus and it is basically a mole (it can be large or small) that some infants are born with.

It is definitely a something that people are not used to. These children have large patches of hair on their faces, a sight that people are definitely not used to seeing. If it was not for the article that I had read beforehand, I would have been completely perplexed as to what was wrong with the little boy at Costco. But because of the article I was not perplexed I was thoughtful. It was going to take thousands of dollars and seven surgeries for Ruby’s birthmark to be removed. The process includes implanting a saline balloon in order to harvest skin for grafts when the birthmark is removed. Ruby will be undergoing surgeries for years to come.

These surgeries are not required to save her life, because the mark does noes affect her health. This surgeries will not relieve discomfort because the mark is not uncomfortable. These seven surgeries and the thousands of dollars being invested in them are all to afford Ruby a life without bullying and gawking. It is purely cosmetic and I do not blame her parents one bit. It will certainly be worth it. Ruby is beautiful with or without the mark but there is no doubt in my mind that having the mark would make her the butt of cruel jokes at school and the target of uncomfortable stares and questions in her personal/social life.

Looking at the little boy in Costco, I wondered if his parents were preparing him for the same surgeries. I wondered if they could afford those surgeries. I wondered if they had a different philosophy about the birthmark and maybe were more focused on raising their son to be proud of being different. Either way the next several years will be difficult for Ruby and the little boy at Costco, whether it is recovering from surgeries or learning how to be different.

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What do you think?