From Nurturing Care, A Nurse is Born
Misty was born with birth defects of spina bifida and cloacal exstrophy to a drug-addicted mom who died when she was five. As if the loss of her mother and so many medical challenges—requiring more than 20 major surgeries—weren’t enough, Misty also experienced homelessness, grew up around drugs and gangs, and spent 14 very tough years in foster care.
But through all these personal and medical obstacles, Misty found comfort and family at Packard Children’s, where care teams throughout the hospital inspired her, guided her and provided the passion for her career as a nurse. Today, Misty is a 27-year-old Licensed Vocational Nurse at the Veteran’s Administration Palo Alto Health Care System, who is studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. She has traveled to Australia, England, Iceland and Spain to inspire other young people through her story of hope.
“Packard Children’s has been so important to help me become who I am,” said Misty. The nurturing care she received at Packard Children’s was a stark contrast to her abusive home life, where her medical condition made her all the more vulnerable. “It really has been like a second home to me.”
Now-retired Petie Cote, CNA, remembers caring for Misty as a baby and throughout childhood. “She was quite a challenge back then, a very tough little girl who was not in a loving environment,” recalled Cote, who, along with her husband, gave Misty away at her 2006 wedding. “Our staff worked hard to not just take care of her many medical issues, but to let her know we cared about her and that she was important to us.”
The seemingly endless operations to treat Misty’s birth defects included abdominal surgeries, orthopedic, urologic and reconstructive surgeries, and many other procedures. Her most recent surgery was an abdominal/urological reconstruction and repair in summer 2012, led by William Kennedy, MD. In 2001, she had a double spinal fusion led by orthopedic surgeons Lawrence Rinsky, MD, and James Gamble, MD.
“Dr. Kennedy and all the medical specialties teams have been awesome, and they’ve been supportive of everything I’ve tried to do to in my life,” said Misty, who also saluted the care of Gary Hartman, MD; John Kerner, MD; Peter Lorenz, MD; and many others.
Sheila Brunner, CCLS, recreation therapy and child life specialist, is not surprised that Misty overcame her many challenges and found a way to live independently, have a career, get married and even become a caregiver like her heroes. “We helped provide so many of the things she could not get at home,” said Brunner. “Now, Misty is there for people in their time of need the way we were for her.”