I was part of a Team before I was even born…

i am an extraordinary Team Builder.  That’s right, I am tooting my own horn on this one. Toot, toot. I have studied effective communications and influential leadership for many years and learned by observation and by my own experience as a leader for more than 20 years what works and what does not, sometimes the hard way.  I also believe that I was raised in a culture that prioritized and recognized more ‘team efforts and accomplishments’ than individual achievements.  A very family oriented culture. I also saw that same culture change a little bit with my younger siblings.  Finally I believe that my ability to relate well to people and bring a group together is enhanced by some inherent talents that I was born with, because when I was smaller than a dot, I was already sharing a room.  You see I was a part of a Team before I was even born…

I have a twin sister and she is fabulous.  So let me answer the usual questions right out of the chute.  She is the oldest, by one minute on the birth certificates.  But I am told we were born one right after the other, and they have to put different times on the record.  We don’t have matchy names, I am Pop and she is Geeg.  That is what we called one another as babies.  They were interchangeable and our given names are no closer to matching than they are and no, we do not use Pop and Geeg as nick names today.  Although I hear those sounds more and more the older I get…Yes! I liked being a twin, but I didn’t know the difference.  No, we are told we are not identical but we look very much alike, we sound very much alike and we have the same laugh and we find the same things incredibly funny. I have included a picture so you be the judge.   We have switched places a time or two in school, but we have pursued different interests and careers and frankly, we fought like alley cats until one of us finally got married and moved out.  We shared a bedroom, with rare exception, from womb to the day I turned 22.  The year I got married and began my 27 year career.  I will be 49 in May, 2015.

I have always had my sister. Or my family, or my husband, or my kids, my friends or my Team or my God. My background is in getting along and being a peace maker and saying I’m sorry. We don’t hold a grudge, we talk things over and have family counsels and act like civilized human beings…or at least come in the house to argue for heaven’s sake.  I do have a younger sister and brother and when my parents were away and my sister and I were ‘in charge’ at 11 or 12, it was a free for all like any other house on our street in 1977 with 3 TV Channels and …well…books.  Pop once snapped me right in the forehead with a dish towel, except she had tied a walnut in the end of it. The walnut hit me in the head and exploded into a million nutty pieces and I went down like a bag of bones.  All I remember was waking up to Pop slapping me in the face. She had recognized an opportunity she would not soon get again and wasn’t about to waste it.  That and a knob in the middle of my forehead the size of a…walnut, turning all shades of black, blue, purple and green for about 6 days. The point is it takes a lot to learn the patience and skills to build a team and I was lucky enough to get a running start.

As independent and successful as I like to think I am, frankly I have to admit I have very rarely felt alone.  My Mother tells stories of my sister and me complaining to her that we did not want to walk to school alone.  The two of us, standing there, complaining that WE were alone.  My poor Mom, it’s a wonder she is not drooling in her froot loops by now.  I have had a little time in the past few weeks to think.  I realize that as independent as I consider myself to be, quite frankly I have only felt truly alone, bereft and abandoned with no one to help me just twice in my life.  This is a horrible feeling.  The first time was nearly 16 years ago and the next time was one month ago almost to the day.

April 28, 1999, about 10:15pm I finally lay back against the cool sheets of the hospital bed.  It is the day my second child is born.  My girl, Holland, just over 12 hours old now.  It is quiet now that every one has gone home.  I can still hear the crib moving down the hall and the nurses fussing over her and her beautiful head full of silky dark hair and big blue eyes, ocean eyes.  She is warm and sleepy with a full tummy and she is rooming out.  I am exhausted after a very busy day beginning with a scheduled C-Section and Hollands arrival followed by the comings and goings of so many loved ones wishing us well and calling to check-in.  It is a happy day and a long day.  I think about the 200 pictures taken and cringe. I may as well have had caution tape slapped across my forehead for how terrible I look on the day I deliver a child

My legs are beginning to tingle as the epidural is wearing off and Sheri the night nurse comes in to check my pain level.  1 to 10 she asks?  Three, I say, the tingling is turning to pins and needles and she turns up the drip. She says good night and that is that.  I begin to relax.  Now I admit 100%, I am not a good sleeper.  I have insomnia and anxiety.  The wheels in my head keep turning away, it has to be very dark and quiet for me to even fall asleep and stay asleep for any length of time.  I can see you reading your Kindle two houses away and I can hear you breathing too loud in the basement…I am just saying. But I realize my legs feel very cold and the pins and needles are in my abdomen and back now and…I am uncomfortable here.  I look at the clock and it has been only 30 minutes,  I call myself a big fat baby right out loud.and try to relax and sleep.   But very soon the cold is searing and burning.  It felt like I had been there for hours with big tears rolling down my face.  Finally I looked at the clock, 25 minutes had passed.  I push the call button.  Sheri my night nurse comes down and I tell her I am at a 9 and I am sorry but I am old now and I am a pansy ass and need more pain drugs.  She laughed and said no problem.  She took a look and told me I was on a pretty high drip (probably set at the “big as a barn” setting)  but she had set it at the maximum  (that would be the “down goes the elephant” setting} and I should feel better in a few minutes and sleep through the night.

So I waited for the relief to come…and I waited…and nothing.  I take that back, searing pain where my abdomen had been cut open so they could cut open my UTERUS and pull out a HUMAN BEING (Holland) that had been growing in there!  At this point, every nerve ending in my body is singing the Battle Hymn in high shrilly voices in my head with pain.  And then…I begin to sweat…profusely. I look at the clock, it has been just 20 minutes. OMG. I push the call button.  Sheri is back and all I say is 12.  Now she is worried.  She says they are paging the anesthesiologist and gives me two Tylenol and rushes out of the room. They may as well have been Skittles for all the good they did me.  In minutes she is back with a big syringe.  She said she had spoken with the doctor and she had authorized one big shot of morphine until it was time to change the bag.  I watched as she shot the medicine into the joint in the tube where the opening was.  I thanked her, and with tears rolling down my face and my hair matted to my head and neck with sweat, I asked if I could please have a diet coke.  She said of course and went to get it.

And still…no relief.  I am trying to pray,  I am sweating and sweating and now I can smell hot dogs…and I begin to dry heave. I look at the clock…it has been 15 minutes. I realize I am on the verge of some kind of panic attack and begin to slow my breathing.  It is as though I have had a surgery with no anesthesia or pain medication.  I am sitting in a puddle of my own sweat trying to sing myself to sleep and I began to feel afraid. It was the very first time I ever, and I mean ever in my life, that I felt that I had no one. That I was completely alone.  I had no one to call, no place to go, no help in sight and honestly, I had never felt that way before.  No comfort is coming and my mind is racing.  I actually am wondering why I haven’t passed out and wishing I would…I wildly scold myself for drinking the damn diet coke.  And then…the ugly cry.  I am honestly waiting for the reel of my life to run before my eyes already so I can just get on with it.  It is the darkest and craziest I have ever felt.  I won’t feel it again for nearly 16 years.

So I will flash forward and continue with my next post.  But I will make a long story short here and tell you that I waited for any kind of relief for 2 hours until I was out of my mind with pain.  All I could think of was that this is what it must feel like to be stabbed. Then in my delirious state I started thinking about the street fights in West Side Story…and by the time the anesthesiologist arrived I am told I was shakily singing a weird version of “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet” to myself.  The first thing the doctor did was check all the joints in the IV tube.  Smart cookie that one.  Turns out one of them had become loose.  The puddle of hot dog sweat I thought I was sitting in was actually the contents of the IV bags that had been running through the tube and spilling out where the joint was loose and draining into the bed sheets and mattress.  Imagine that. Poor Sheri.  Dr. Drugs was madder than a wet hen and I do remember that she let the expletives fly!  The keystone cop-nurses came in to change the bed linens out.  Unfortunately before Dr. Drug could get my line restored and my pain relieved, so when she came back in they were trying to scrape me off the ceiling after standing me up to clean the bed. This time I actually watched the Doctor come completely a part at them.  But then, I was in a clean bed and all of a sudden it was as if a big warm blanket fell gently over me all at once and the pain was gone and the shrilly choir in my head faded away and I finally slept.  I’ll tell you what though, those nurses kept me high as a kite for the next 36 hours bless their hearts.

To be continued….  Aloha, Dee

Cancun 6-11

My sister is on the left and I am on the right. 🙂

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