Roll Models Guest Blogger: Sandi Tiffany

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This article is the first in a new category of posts for www.scottdrotar.com. It is quite different from all of my previous posts in that it was not written by yours truly. Today I feature an article by a guest blogger, who is not only an amazing woman, but also a former nurse of mine, Sandi Tiffany. Not only is Sandi the author of today’s post, but she also catalyzed this entire idea of featuring articles written by people who know me well, in an effort to give you another point from which to view my world. It all started when Sandi was asked to write a piece for another publication about one of her experiences as a nurse, and she chose to write about her time taking care of me. Sandi sent me a copy of her work, and after being both touched and enlightened by her words, it became obvious to me that presenting other people’s perspectives of the things I go through would help you to better understand my life. Since she is the person who sparked this phenomenal idea, I feel it is only fitting that Sandi be the first blogger I feature. So, without further ado, I proudly present to you an article by the first Roll Models guest blogger, and one of the nicest people you will ever meet, Sandi Tiffany (words in italics are the work of the guest blogger).

Scott Drotar Sandi Tiffany
Sandi was my nurse for 8 years, 4 of which were while I was living in the dorms at Notre Dame.

I was born at Memorial Hospital, I went to school there, and I have been an employee in some capacity for 37 years. I first worked as a student nurse, then as a graduate nurse on an orthopedic/surgical unit, and then on the Pediatrics and Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit (PICU). For the last 16 years I have been working as a home care nurse as part of the registry team. This job has placed me in a variety of different homes. I have worked with clients of varying ages and health issues, some for a short time and some for years. Working four to twelve hours in other’s homes is not for everyone. It works the best when the values of the family are similar to those of the health care provider. I had this opportunity when I started working with Scott Drotar.

I met Scott in the PICU at Memorial Hospital. He was a freshman at John Glenn High School where his dad was a well respected government teacher and his mom a dynamite music instructor. He was in the hospital because he developed pneumonia so severe that it required an emergency intubation to manage his secretions. The first day I took care of Scott was a 12 hour shift and the day he received a permanent tracheostomy. A friend of the family who was a nurse practitioner on the Pediatric Oncology Unit encouraged me to take care of Scott. He was home several weeks before they began to look for someone to care for him on the day shift. The rest is history though, as I ended up being part of Scott’s life for the next eight years.

Initially, in the school setting, I was in the classroom with Scott. As he felt more comfortable I also acted as the school nurse, but Scott’s care remained my first priority. If he was sick, I was at home taking care of him, or if he needed to rest in the lounge I stayed with him. Sometimes he just needed a quick suction and his books switched before heading back to class. Eventually, his care consisted of four nurses who covered his hours. Scott persevered and graduated Valedictorian, receiving scholarships to help him attend the University of Notre Dame.

We had the opportunity to go with Scott to Notre Dame and provide him with 24 hour coverage during his four years of college. Our team grew to four men and five women that covered his care, including every other weekend, so he was able to enjoy the entire college experience. Wherever Scott went we were there, often in the background, because we also recognized that no college student wants anybody hovering.

Scott Drotar Memorial Nurses
Here I am with several of my nurses during college. These incredible individuals let me chase my dreams and live independently.

I believe I speak for all of the nurses in saying that we had some great experiences. I was able to see a drum line before a home game, a water polo match, attend a pep rally, go to a home football game, attend some great classes, and meet some interesting young people from all over the world. Personally, I was able to study while Scott studied, or while he was in class. This is when my passion for alternative therapies and nutrition took off. I completed three online master’s degree level courses through Tennessee State and participated in a pilot study for accreditation in Holistic nursing. I also learned to view Scott as a whole person not as “handicapped.” It also made me more empathetic to the challenges immobility poses for those who are dependent on others.

All good things come to an end. Scott graduated from Notre Dame and went out to Kansas to complete his Master’s in Quantitative Psychology. He now has another set of nurses who care for him. In his blog, www.scottdrotar.com, he very eloquently shares his trials and tribulations. His blog allows us to get inside his head, to understand better what it is like to be on the receiving end of our care and perhaps fine tune it where needed. I strongly encourage all to take the time to check it out. Home care is not for everyone, finding a good fit is important. I am certain that collaboratively our group of nurses made a difference in the life of this child and his family. It gave them the ability to live their lives to the fullest.

I was honored when Sandi first asked if she could write about me, but after reading her recollection of our time together and what she took away from it, I was moved beyond words. It makes me feel so happy to know that she enjoyed working with me, and that I was able to touch her life just like she touched mine. It makes me feel even better that she thinks other health care professionals could benefit from learning about my life through my blog. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember that just because my nurses are taking care of me, that does not mean that I am the only one who is affected by our relationship. It just goes to show that you are affected by everyone you interact with throughout your life, and you never know which people are going to make a profound, positive impact on you (or that you will make an impact on). The last two sentences in Sandi’s article sums it up nicely. She, and all of the nurses that have cared for me, greatly improved the lives of me and my family, and her terrific care and endless compassion allowed us to live happy, successful, and fulfilling lives. And now, thanks to her article, I too can say how I am certain that, in some small way, I added some happiness to her life as well.

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