This nurse was hiding the truth behind social media

Originally published on KevinMD

She was new to this ICU. She was young, smart, funny, and considered one of the “cool” nurses.

Before we could really get to know her, she exposed her wonderful, fantastic, perfect life all over social media.

Their perfect two-story brick house, their two little, perfect angel daughters — the perfect life in the perfect town.

But what was most important was her perfect, handsome husband. He was bound to be a self-employed millionaire … you wait and see … Greg was now a real estate contractor. And he had the connections to build those semi-mansions that everyone craved.

Every night Crystal came into work, and she was all smiles, high energy. Although we all felt like underdogs to this nurse with her stellar life, we were happy for her.

But the facade started to slip through the cracks. Crystal would clock in late but have to leave early. Her phone calls while at work to her husband were pleading: “Please get out of bed and get the girls breakfast and ready for school.”

Greg was tired. Frequently tired. He really didn’t want to work at all. He knew his wife was a dedicated, hard worker. She easily put in 60 hours a week in the ICU.

Then the school system called. The girls weren’t showing up for school. A conference was called. And suddenly, one of the highest-ranking elementary schools in the district became the “worst” school. Crystal and Greg decided they would take their girls out of school and homeschool them. Greg would be their teacher while Crystal worked.

We found out that Crystal jumped from one job to the next. It seemed that when her fellow nurses caught on to her truth, Crystal would start a new job.

Crystal would come home from work after a night shift and find her girls still in bed sleeping. No breakfast, no grooming, no homeschooling.

One night she came into work. She was disheveled. She had difficulty focusing. And she had bruises all up and down her arms.

A nurse talked to management about possible domestic abuse. And management called Crystal in to offer her EAP (Employee Assistance Program). She could receive free therapy sessions from licensed therapists at her hospital — total confidentiality.

Crystal said nothing was wrong. Everything was fine. Her awesome husband had stopped “working,” the bills weren’t being paid, and Crystal had more and more excuses for why she had to call out sick.

But Greg was wonderful. He had connections. And this time they were going to pick up and move to sunny California. Lots of semi-mansions.

He’s going to be a millionaire one day.

And in a flash, they moved across the country.

Crystal “unfriended” and “blocked” many of her friends on social media that knew the truth.

They lost their house in foreclosure.

And some of us never heard from her again.

If you know the truth and you’re tired of the isolation, the demands, the aggression, the denial.

Stop lying to yourself — for your sake and for your children’s sake.

Reach out before it’s too late.

The brother I never knew. The mother I never had.

Originally published on KevinMD

The brother I never knew.

He was buried in an unmarked grave with other dead babies. 1960.

I am now the age my mother died. She was 64 years old: colon cancer.

She was a vacant, negligent mother.

During one of my psychology classes in nursing school, we learned about the baby monkey experiment (the Harlow experiment), where a baby monkey was laid against a mother made of wires. It was an inanimate object void of heart and warmth and touch and love.

That was a lot like my mother.

It’s interesting how I seem to have flashbacks of when I was five years old. It was 1960.

It wasn’t “nap time,” but I noticed my mother spent a lot of time in bed. I knew she was sad, and that made me sad. How I loved my mother! I snuggled up next to her to give her comfort and love. The only thing I knew was how to be next to her and maybe take away some of her sadness.

Mom came from a strong Italian family. Her father was from Italy and crossed over to America, landing on Ellis Island. America: the promised land. And to have a son in the family was the ultimate blessing.

Mom was hoping this time for a son. After having twin daughters with stark black hair and then me with vibrant red hair (dad was Irish!), this third pregnancy had to be a boy.

The golden son.

Before the age of ultrasounds or NICUs (newborn ICUs) or surfactant, modern medicine in newborns had not yet developed at the time.

After eight months of pregnancy, mom started to have contractions and vaginal bleeding — all of the wrong signs for a healthy baby. Eight months gestation was too premature.

Dad rushed her to the hospital. And after several hours of labor, mom delivered a baby boy. The Italian “prize.”

They heavily sedated mothers back then during labor. She remembers being drowsy and weak with blurry visioned. She remembers seeing the back of Terrence’s head — the name given to him. His grandfather from Ireland’s name.

But this was her redemption.

Finally, she could please her parents! A boy with olive-colored skin and black hair.

And he was whisked away. My mother would never hold and bond and kiss the baby boy.

Within one hour of delivery, he was dead.

It was called “hyaline membrane disease” — now known as Infant respiratory distress syndrome or neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. It is more common in premature infants born six weeks or more before the due date. This is a condition in newborn babies in which the lungs are deficient in surfactant, preventing their proper expansion and causing the formation of hyaline material in the lung spaces.
And my mother came home to us three girls without that bundle of joy.

A dead baby.

A disgrace.

There was no therapy sessions or grieving. Everything came to an abrupt halt.

Baby Terrence was buried in a cemetery along with other dead babies in a large unmarked grave with multiple crosses everywhere.

One hour on this earth left my mother in total devastation for her lifetime.

And she withdrew from the joys her daughters eagerly wanted to give her.

My sisters and I somehow raised ourselves. We survived.

Dad climbed the corporate ladder with IBM. Dad bought the big house, the lake house, and the matching boat. He had several infidelities, and his drinking eventually surpassed “social drinking.”

What made mom miserable and vacant was all of the above.

But grieving the death of a baby or child is considered the ultimate tragedy.

There was no “hotline.” There was no bereavement support group. Psychotherapy was looked down upon.

And so she existed day after day, year after year, mentally bypassing our growth and development, our proms, our high school graduations, and college graduations and marriages and grandbabies.

She housed herself in until her death.

On my mother’s death bed as she was dying some of her last words to my father were, “Joe, do you have the baby? Where’s the baby?”

I cried at my mother’s funeral.

I cried for the mother I never had.

As John Lennon once sang: “Mother, you had me, but I never had you.”