Christine Haskins is a mother, grandmother, Vietnam veteran and an ICU nurse of 40 years. Thousands of lives have been affected by her care. She has been there to hold the hands of those whom passed and comforted those left behind. Many nights she came home exhausted and heartbroken from the day’s toll. There have also been many times she has been filled with joy when a patient made an unexpected recovery or breakthrough. Just like many other nurses worldwide she carries these moments in her heart and still finds a way to put on the brave face as she came home to her 2 kids and later her grandchildren. She has always served as a fierce advocate for her patients and fellow nurses. Countless nurses have credited her with inspiration and a willingness to teach and counsel. Christine Haskins is a fighter.
As a young child; Chris, underwent several surgeries for recurring tumors on her leg. only to finally be cured with newly discovered very risky, cobalt therapy. The treatments and surgeries left her with a mangled calf, truly only skin over bone. The endless days and nights she spent in one hospital after another inspired her to be the nurse she is today. Since then she has had surgery on her back, partial hysterectomy, complete hysterectomy, gall bladder removal, 2 c sections, rotator cuff repair and other various heart procedures. Always she bounced right back.
The last 18 months have proven more difficult. In February of 2016 she suffered a heart attack that led to an emergency quadruple bypass. Though difficult, she embraced her motto of “Aggressive Mobility” and 5 weeks later returned to nursing director full time. Then, immediately after returning to work her only son died at the age of 37. She was crushed. He had been suffering from Alcoholism complicated by Alpha One antitrypsin. It occurred quickly and painfully, literally bleeding out from every orifice. Still she stood next to him holding his hand and advocating at every turn. Needless to say it took a great toll on her newly grafted heart. Again, she gathered all her strength and soldiered on.
Four months later she was rushed to the emergency room with a perforated bowel from a previously undiagnosed diverticulitis requiring emergency surgery and a colostomy bag. She was bleeding out on the table, bleeding out faster than they could replace with platelets. Her spleen developed a spontaneous bleed. They questioned whether she would make it off the table, but she did. After a couple days of what seemed progressive recovery she suffered another heart attack which led to the discovery that 3 of the 4 grafts had failed. Two days later she went septic and had to be reintubated. The mood in her unit changed instantly. You could read the fear on every nurse and doctors face. Many did not believe she would survive. Somehow, again, she did. She exhausted all federally protected leave recovering but still she was back at work in 6 weeks from admission date, with a colostomy bag. However, the hospital she worked for broke FMLA law and said her position was no longer available. Again, she advocated for herself no matter how difficult it was and was able to return; albeit with a demotion and cut in pay. She chose not to Without any FMLA protected leave left she was unable to have the grafts in heart repaired and she was unable to have the colostomy bag removed 2 months later when it could have been. She did everything she could to build strength and quickly became stronger than before and in better shape than she had been in years.
On May 18th, 2017, after earning back 6 weeks covered FMLA leave, she went in for a scheduled removal of the colostomy that had been in place 10 months while working 14 hour shifts in the ICU. The takedown went even better than expected. However, when they tried to flush the system before closing it was discovered she had a complete blockage. The surgeons then had to open her completely up and remove 20cm of intestines, using large margins in case it was cancerous. Her initial recovery time had been expected to take 2 weeks after which she had excitedly planned a trip to Texas with her grandson to visit her daughter and her Florida based granddaughter, whom was flying out. Now she was being told it would be 4-6 weeks. The idea of a break from the last 18 months was fleeing quickly.
After being discharged too early while hallucinating, a fall risk and without home care ordered, she succumbed to a massive infection within days. Less than a week later her daughter was calling 911 from Texas to get her back in the hospital. She had fallen 3 times leaving her with a blackened eye and several bruises. She was deeply hallucinating from the infection and had no understanding that the original takedown was not all that had occurred. Upon admittance it was discovered she had a large abscess in her gut. Another surgery placed a drainage tube. Cultures from the abscess showed she was suffering with a Klebsiella infection with ESBL. That meant the bacteria were antibiotic resistant. The next two weeks in the hospital were series of small steps forward followed by large steps back. Two deep wounds opened up tunneling into her on her stomach. Throughout it all she dealt with an evident Urinary Tract infection that would cause her to cry, as well as uncontrollable diarrhea. Finally, after a couple weeks she was stable enough to be discharged with home care. She continued on IV antibiotics at home while dealing with the open wounds, uncontrolled UTI and diarrhea. A week and a half aafter coming home a new wound tract opened. A week later she was septic and being readmitted. She is now battling a fistula (an hole between her gut and bladder) and a crimped ureter (the tube that goes between the kidney and bladder). She had to be transferred to a larger hospital far from her grandson who does not drive. She is awaiting surgery while battling a new antibiotic resistant E.Coli infection. For Chris it seems like the battling is never ending sometimes. She tries to keep a positive outlook but it is hard.
Having exhausted all her protected medical leave she was let go from her job. The bills are piling up and insurance ends in 2 weeks. Her daughter in Texas has drained all her own savings trying to cover bills and Chris’ is depleted. There is still a very long road to travel. She will likely need more than one surgery. In a best case scenario it will be months before she will be well enough to begin looking for work as a nurse again. At the age of 64 she has experienced ageism first hand. To that end, she went back to school 7 years ago and acquired her MBA. Still, that won’t necessarily make it any easier to find employment. In the meantime she needs help making ends meet and to pay for Cobra so she will be able to receive the life saving medical care she needs to live.
Chris is the mother everyone loves to “adopt”. She is the nurse every family member prays for when their loved one is hospitalized. She is the co-worker everyone loves because she works hard and shares her knowledge and infectious enthusiasm. Please help us keep that light shining in her eyes. This world would be a much colder place without her.