Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heat Wave Road Warriors

First of all, it is ridiculously hot in the STL right now. The temperature has been hovering near 100 for a week. This morning when we left for work 80 degrees felt nice and cool.

Personally, I love summer and feel a sense of accomplishment facing down extreme heat. But for clients without air conditioning, this weather is downright dangerous. Premature babies or kids with sickle cell are especially threatened. So, I've been making a few emergency fund runs to Home Depot for window unit air conditioners.

I got to help deliver one of these, and was reminded all over again of how awesome our nurses are. They always apologize for their messy cars (like I care how many packs of diapers are lying around), and then blow you away with their tenacity. Already that morning my driver had almost needed to help deliver the baby of a client who did not realize she was in labor. Don't ask me how that is possible, but when she finally admitted she was feeling "weird" our nurse figured things out. When EMS arrived the woman was already at 9 1/2 centimeters!

After recovering from that escapade, the nurse drove me to a run-down North City townhouse where 8 kids and a few adults were languishing in the heat. We must have looked pretty funny dragging the 50 lb air conditioning unit up to the second story apartment. Luckily, the baby's father was home to help get it in the door, and had everything up and running by the time our visit was done.

Even in that crowded, dark, overheated, smelly apartment, you could see glimmers of hope. That's another thing that always amazes me when I visit our clients. The family situation was less than ideal, but at least there was a "baby daddy" to help around the house . At least his children knew who he was. At least the mom was interested in our services and not just looking for handouts. The children were the most uplifting part. A few stared shyly at us, but one toddler girl grinned, giggled, and lept in our laps for hugs. The oldest daughter cradled her baby brother, and the toddlers bent down to give him kisses. Even in the face of poverty, their innocent playfulness was inspiring.

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