I received the ornament I have been waiting for. It is a yellow submarine and Santa himself is sitting right about where the periscope should be. He is the traditional St. Nick, with chubby, cherry cheeks and lustrous white hair. The submarine is decorated with sugar drops; green, orange, yellow and pink.
I put it on my Thanksgiving tree, along with Autumn-themed disks tied with strings of burlap. This colorful and iconic submarine represents the oxygen treatment that I have been writing about. This little keepsake is so much more than a whimsical tree ornament.
There is another vital piece to my treatment: the nurses who sat with me day after day, guiding me through the often tedious task that has successfully boosted the healing process. Going in the hyperbaric chamber was an exact simulation of being 66 feet under sea level. The process itself is called the “dive,” and I am told experiencing the changes in pressure is much like going into the ocean via submarine.
Allow me to tell you a bit about those beloved nurses, whom I call angels, who accompanied me on this journey.
The first angel drifts through the room as if on wings, her voice melodious and opera-like. She is never too busy or preoccupied to take a moment to chat, her smile genuine and her words soothing.
The second angel is newly married and passionate about all animals. In fact, she lives on what she refers to as a “small farm.” She greeted me each morning with a “Good morning, Darlin,” words that instantly relaxed me as we prepared for the dive.
The third is an effective team leader, kind and dedicated. She would enter the chamber room often, always taking the time to greet me. She and one of the admission administrators sang “Happy Birthday” to me in the hallway after one of my sessions, their voices coated in laughter. The admission administrators were professional and thorough; always preparing my paperwork in a timely fashion and making sure I was one of the first patients cleared for treatment.
My fourth angel is a radiant redhead, with an infectious giggle and a sweet spirit. She expresses great respect for her mom, which speaks highly of her own integrity and goodness. Her taste in music is much like mine and I felt an immediate bond with her. Perhaps it is our red hair.
And now, angel number five. He is the gentleman who completed the intake with me and my husband, Kent. He delivered the information precisely, answering my questions with no hesitation. His blue sneakers match his blue scrubs. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and they have a vivacious little boy named Charlie. He is a hunter, fisherman, and enjoys sports He comes from a family of medical professionals, and he superbly continues that legacy.
And, speaking of angels, I don’t know what I would do without my husband, Kent. I believe he is a gift from God. He was always by my side, getting me motivated in the morning, driving me to the hospital and always waiting for me in the hallway when my dive was finished. On my birthday, I left the chamber and, to my delight, found my sister, Lisa, waiting for me. What a gift that was! And I got to ride back to Sarah’s House in her glorious Dodge Challenger, Lola. She does not realize it yet, but as soon as my mobility improves, I will be driving that purple car once again.
Sarah’s House and staff had a birthday party for me, complete with balloons, cake, flowers and gifts. Cathy and Delores are the wondrous ladies who manage Sarah’s House with empathy, professionalism and love.
The three months I spent at St. Joseph’s Hospital were a mixture of intense devotion to my treatment and remarkable discovery. Every day was a gift. I miss the nurses and doctors. I long for those hours in the kitchen and great room at Sarah’s House. I treasure those meetings with my friends — Kathy, Skip, Andrea, Pam, Rick and so many others. Laurie and Johnny are so dear to us. Johnny has been Kent’s best friend for many years, as well as his wife, Laurie. One of the greatest gifts Kent has given me or will ever give me, is Johnny and Laurie. They open their arms, their home and their hearts to us always. We love them both.
I miss new acquaintances, such as Louise, Douglas, Maria, Cyn, Kevin and Robert. Robert, who loved to cook and wore Bigfoot slippers. Robert, who passed away shortly after returning to his home. He will remain in my heart and in Kent’s heart forever.
I am moving on now, my friends. I have the love of a lifetime at my side and I cannot find the words to describe my husband. My sister and I will continue to laugh until we cannot speak and get lost in Bangor again and again and again. My friends and I can make memories for years to come, and I will fulfill my dream: to have “Northern Yarns” published in book form.
We may stumble, but we will also continue to learn those life lessons that may puzzle us, stop us in our tracks, and ultimately strengthen us. Thank you for allowing me to share my adventures with each of you.
Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their two dogs, Barney and Morgan. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.