Shadows in the hall. This is the first Chapter in my book. I worked as a LVN for nearly 40 plus years until a fall at work shortened my career. Over time, after the fall, I recieved 2 Hip replacements and a Left Knee replacement, limiting my abilities. Then, in 2003 I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, bringing my career to a halt, I was now told because of my condition I would not be able to work around sick people! That was my business!
After my first surgery on my left hip, I met my second husband, Andrew D. Pavlos. We met in 2000 and were married in 2003. I did try to return to work after each diagnosis but with the heart condition it became very difficult and I will share all of it with you.
This book is being dedicated to my now deceased husband Andy Pavlos who inspired me. We had gone to the long-term care facility to drop off a present for the elderly. Our volunteers at the hospital put up a Christmas tree every year with candy canes and a tag with a number. assigned to a Resident. the public is then encouraged to take a cane and return with a gift before the Resident's Christmas Party.
He had delivered the gift, and when he returned to the car, he said, "I always hate to go in there."
When I asked him why, cringing, he explained, "All the old folks are in their chairs in a line. They look like shadows in the hall."
That observation gave me food for thought. Having been a Licensed Vocational Nurse for 40 plus years, I remembered the many people I had cared for and realized how many types of shadows there were. I began to think about what an interesting career I had and thought I should share it.
With my marriage to Andy, I inherited two daughters who have now gone into the Nursing field. Andy told me they were not interested in Nursing until I came along. I told him I never did anything to push them that direction. I did, however, tell them stories of my career, and they always seem to enjoy them. Maybe that is what encouraged them?
I hope you enjoy them too.
Linda Pavlos, LVN
At age 13, my brother Michael and I were placed in a foster home. After two homes, we were placed in our permanent home, where we stayed until I graduated from the Nursing Program. Our foster parents had already raised ten children of their own and raised two more during the Depression. They were very encouraging to us. I went from D’s and F’s in school, to making the A honor roll within a very short time.
My previous grades were poor due to lack of attendance at school. Nor was I stupid or as they say these days learning challenged. At ten years old, the school Psychologist took me aside one day after testing, asking me why my grades were so low. He said to me, “There is no reason for these grades, Linda. Your IQ is 140. You can do much better.”
I was not a happy child at the time. The kids in school made fun of my weight. My Mother was depressed, crying all the time, even threatening to kill herself during some of these fits of frustration and anger. My father had died some years ago when I was six, yet she still cried over his history of drinking and God knows what else! I didn’t know the man, I never grew up around him.
My foster parents helped me build my self-esteem. They were always motivating me. The most important thing they ever said to me was, “Remember, Linda, they can take everything away from you, but they can’t take your education.”
I loved the way my mom gave us a correction. One Sunday morning, my foster sister Darlene and I were putting our hems back into our skirts when she caught us. With a flat expression on her face, she explained, “Just remember you will have to take out every one of those stitches on Judgement Day!”
After leaving as quickly as she came, we looked at each other and asked, “How many stitches you got?”
My dad was a strong disciplinarian without ever raising a hand or inflicting any pain. When he put his hand on the buckle of his belt, you knew it was time to shut up and get out!! Funny thing, I never saw his belt leave his pants!
He only stood 5’2” but he was a giant in his right. He didn’t seem to be afraid of anything or anyone. Mom used to tell him, “Earl, you would fight a circle saw if you thought you could win.”
His answer was, “The bigger they are the harder they fall!”
That statement was never truer when one of their older daughter’s, six-foot husband, beat her. Daddy had a “talk” with him. No one will ever know what exactly was said, but he never hit her again.
When Mrs. Pound, my social worker, was transporting us to the Gipson’s house, our permanent home, she asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I was wanted to be a Nurse. That was at just thirteen years old.
At sixteen years old I volunteered weekends to be a Candy Striper, volunteer, at Doctor’s Hospital in Modesto, CA. During my volunteer time, I worked 160 hours that Summer, to earn my cap. I was so proud of that.
At age sixteen I also made another major decision toward my career. At that age, the Welfare Department allowed foster children to go home. When Mom approached me, I asked if I had to go home. I told her that I wanted to go to College. I didn’t believe my maternal mom could help me like they did, to be strong as I needed. I can tend to stubborn at times and I knew my Dad was tougher than me and God I wanted that!
Mom told me I could stay. (Stay, I did until I finished my Nurse’s training!) However, after having been notified of my decision, my real mom became angry, writing terrible letters to my foster mom, blaming her for my decision. When my brother and I went to visit her, I tried to explain it to her, but she didn’t seem to understand. All she could do is be angry at me.
That Fall after I graduated from High School in Oakdale, CA, I went to Modesto Junior College, 15 miles away. During that first semester, I rode the bus to school. I didn’t have a car or a driver’s license. By the next semester, I was accepted into the Licensed Vocational Nurse Training Program. I was one of the youngest students in the class. There were many women who were middle-aged or a little older. During that time, there was a paid work training program like the CAWEE, California Association of Work Experience Educators here in California. Many of the women were in a program like that to help them pay for school.
Our program in 1969 was not like the program it is today. We would finish our work in the assigned hospital in the morning. We went back to the JC in the afternoon for our other classes such as Anatomy, Nutrition, etc. Today the students take the college Anatomy, Nutrition Classes, etc. giving them full college credits. When and if they decide to become an RN later, the number of classes needed for advancement will be decreased since they will have already gotten those classes out of the way. Also, the Junior College tends to give credit to LVNs for these classes taken without an expiration date to encourage LVNs to go back to school.
During that first semester, I rode with one of the students in the program who lived there in Oakdale. We were also doing our rotations in the same hospitals. However, when she let me know she was moving to Modesto, I was now going to be without transportation, an important factor for participating in the training.
I went to Mom and Dad, telling them my predicament. Mom immediately called Mrs. Pound to see what we could do. Mrs. Pound asked if I had my Driver’s License. I did not. I had taken Driver’s Ed in High School, but I didn’t feel secure enough to take my test. The instructor for the class was the football, coach. Two of the other trainees were football, players. He was constantly turning around while I was driving to talk to them. Since I had never driven before, it scared me.
To fix this dilemma, I was going to learn to drive and get that driver’s license! I couldn’t even borrow the family car without it! Mr. Helt, a former driver’s ed trainer at the High School, had recently retired. Darlene, my foster sister, had him as her teacher and loved him. She got her license right away, no problem. I quickly went to the DMV, took the test for my permit; one down one to go!
We then called Mr. Helt for an appointment. He was available for training, thank God! He showed up at the house in his car, having an automatic transmission. I found him to be truly kind and a great teacher. The first thing he did was take me to the parking lot at the Catholic Church because it was large and empty. I loved that idea: something the football coach didn’t do!
He asked if I had completed Driver’s Ed training in High School. I told him I had and how I wasn’t sure I could drive. He said that we would start at the beginning. He would have me stirring the car, making turns, starting and stopping, backing up, everything. Within a short time, he said I was fine to go on the road, I was surprised. He told me I had learned more than I thought. The whole training had lasted about two days when he told me I was ready to take my driving test. He also let me know that I would be taking the test in his car.
Test day arrived. We went to the DMV. He gave me a pep talk telling me I should do very well; then he left me. When the tester arrived, it had started to rain. It didn’t just rain it started to pour down. I didn’t know where the windshield wipers knob was! I didn’t know where the defroster was! I fumbled around until I found them. I had given my signal to pull away from the curb when the tester also reminded me to do that. Not a good way to start!
When we left the DMV, I performed all his requests. When we returned, he totaled up my score, looking straight at me, he stated “You just made it! Just barely.” I didn’t say anything; I just looked dumbfounded trying not to cry. When Mr. Helt got in the car, I blurted out tearfully, “I just made it! But I almost failed!”
He smiled and said, “You got your license, right? That’s all that matters. The numbers don’t go on your record! Now let's finish this OK. Let’s go get your picture taken!”
I went home with my temporary driver’s license, so glad I had gotten it. The next step now was to have something to drive. The Director of the Training Program told me that I had to have reliable transportation to stay in the program. If I couldn’t do that, I would be kicked out! I wanted so bad to complete the program; to become a Nurse!
It wasn’t long before we got a call from Mrs. Pound. When I first met my social worker, I had no idea what a blessing this woman was, I was about to find out! From that first day when I told her I wanted to be a Nurse, she took my Dependent Social Security Benefits I received from my father’s death, putting them into a savings account for my education. With the welfare, it is usual practice to use any money received to their supplement their payments. This woman didn’t allow that to happen. Instead, she put the money away for me. She told Mom that she had filed the court to get a sum of money from my trust for my car. I was then told to wear my uniform to court.
On court day, I wore my blue uniform. On the drive to Modesto, Mrs. Pound asked me about my grade point average. I told her I didn’t know; I hadn’t picked up my grades yet. “Tell the Judge you have a B average OK?”
Entering the courtroom, I was escorted to the front of the room to sit at the Attorneys desks. The Judge entered the room. I sat erect in my chair, making sure not to slouch or have bad posture. I wanted to look as professional as I possibly could.
Speaking to me, the Judge asked, “What is your grade point average young lady?”
“B average, your Honor” I quipped without hesitation.
“You’re here to ask for money from your trust fund for a car?’ he said with a serious tone in his voice.
“Yes, your Honor. I go to the hospital in the morning, then back to the College in the afternoon. I’m required to have reliable transportation to stay in the program.” I responded quickly.
“So…you're training to be a Nurse?” he examined carefully.
“Yes, Sir! A Licensed Vocational Nurse!” I reported proudly.
“Well,” he mused, “I guess you better go car shopping, young lady.”
Looking at Mrs. Pound seated next me, he announced, “Granted!”
She smiled at me knowingly as we left the courtroom.
With the $600 dollars released by the court, it wasn’t long after that Iwas able to put a down payment on my brand-new Ford Maverick and pay my first year’s insurance.
One of the hospitals I worked in as a Student was a Hospital in Modesto, CA. Mrs. Boyer was my instructor for that facility. She was pleasant and such a good teacher. Always so patient with her students. During my rotation with her, she approached me, discussing my need to get organized and learn to save steps. She told me that she understood that a young woman just out of High School would not be as organized as my elder peers who had families and children. However, she did offer me a solution to my problem.
“Linda, the staff here, have been talking to me, they like you here. They tell me that if you went downstairs to the staffing office, they would love to hire you part-time!”
“Really?” I blurted in amazement. “OK!”
“Why don’t you go down there right now?” she posed. “You’re caught up right?”
“Yes, yes I am” I quickly left the floor heading to the basement.
When I got there, this sweet smiling red-haired woman quickly handed me an application. “You’re Linda, right? Here fill this out; get it back to me. Then we can talk about when you’re available OK?”
I could feel my smile encompassing my whole face, “Absolutely! Weekends are great! OK?”
That conversation turned into a three-year job for me. When I was ready to take my state test for my license, I was told to bring my new license to the hospital as soon as I received it. They hired me full time as an LVN. Shortly thereafter, I became the Charge Nurse in the Newborn Nursery at 20 years of age.