Who am I? I am the youngest of four daughters, no sons, born to my parents Harriett Cole and Joe Harney; they divorced when I was very young (I really do not remember my dad at home, the only memory is riding in dad’s squad car, he was a sheriff deputy, after eating a bottle of baby aspirin—mostly the lights and sound). I was born and raised (by my mother and paternal grandparents) in the Iowa City and Coralville area; in fact Coralville was the Cole family farm until interstate 80 came through and the family farm house still stands today.
My father passed in June 2014 after suffering a traumatic brain injury, falling from a ladder at work at the age of 78; he was an electrician by trade and had his own company in San Rafael California until he retired but he continued to do jobs for his former customers and friends after his retirement. Dad’s estate and UIHC paying the nursing courses, has enabled me to return to school and complete my bachelor’s degree. My mother became ill and was in and out of the hospital and nursing home the spring and summer of 2014.
Mom passed in September 2014, also at the age of 78, after my sisters and I made the difficult decision to take her home from the nursing home, she was miserable and getting weaker by the second, with Hospice care. The healthcare teams were never able to find the cause of Mom’s illness-severe diarrhea, weight loss, no appetite and no real sleep for months; this will haunt me forever. Mom has left us the family home, my great grandparents’ home and we are working to fix that up.
All the estate issues the last couple of years has caused a lot of stress between my eldest sister and the rest of us, she is not willing to compromise on anything with anyone. I married Dennis out of high school and had two sons, Nick and Brandon (they are two years, two months and two days apart). I divorced Dennis after he completed collage and when I had a year left to complete my ADN from Kirkwood, the boys were three and five years old. I married Jim in 2009, after the boys were raised.
Jim and I dated shortly after my divorce, for four and half years, but I needed to focus on my career and children. We began dating again, after ten years apart, when we ran into each other at UIHC and went for lunch about every three months for the first year. We then dated another four and a half years when Jim presented me with a beautiful ring and I accepted , I never expected to get married again, I thought we may live together but never marry.
Jim moved into my home, now ours, in rural North Liberty; this meant cleaning out, fixing up and selling his family home in Iowa City, which took over a year and a half. Meanwhile Nick became engaged to his now wife Cassie. They were married in July 2011. Nick is an assistant director of debate at a Virginia University and travels frequently for tournaments. Cassie is employed at the same university; I am not exactly sure what she does, she trains other staff and helps them with projects.
Nick and Cassie are expecting their first child in October; this is currently a secret, after having a miscarriage last fall. Brandon lives in North Liberty and is a correctional officer at Oakdale. He has been at Oakdale for about three and a half years and had been in Wichita Falls Texas for three years as a correctional officer prior to that. I am delighted that he is back living locally and he has my grand dog, Holley-a black and white border collie. Holley will come spend the weekends with Jim and me, as Brandon works nights Wednesday through Sunday.
I have worked at UIHC as a nurse since August of 1992; I currently work in the vascular surgery clinic and have wonderful coworkers, including my physicians. I have previously worked in medicine cardiology, heart failure/pre and post heart transplant, cardiothoracic surgery, and liver transplant coordinator. I have worked since I was twelve, babysitting (summers and Iowa football and basketball home games), as an office assistant (age fourteen to sixteen), waitress at the old Coralville truck stop, cashier at Hy-Vee and at UIHC in housekeeping from 1987-1991.
Jim and I have three dogs: Suzy a blind golden retriever that our vet recommended after the loss of our other golden, Amber in 2010, Raegan, my mother’s sheltie that she had bought just a couple of months before she became ill (Raegan moved in with us when mom first went into the hospital for our convenience of taking care of her, she was only five months old, and has never left) and we recently adopted Oliver, my first mutt after losing our sheltie, George to oral cancer last August.
I walk the dogs twice a day, regardless of weather, although if it is extremely cold they do not like to go (their feet freeze up) and Suzy does not like gun shots so we need to time walks accordingly with each hunting season. I have completed RAGBRAI with Brandon five times (Jim drove support with our camper). Brandon has completed RAGBRAI two other times without me before he persuaded me to join his adventure; however since he has moved back to Iowa he does not have the seniority to get the week of RAGBRAI off—this means I have gained a lot of weight with no incentive to get on the bike and train every spring and summer.
I would rate my health as good but would really like the time to get on the bike again to help loose the weight I have gained; I know that I would feel great. My biggest fear would be the death of one of my children; I cannot imagine how difficult that is. My longest friend, Janet died in 2010 after a battle with colon cancer (familial Gardner’s Syndrome); we had been friends for thirty years, she was like a sister and her mom is my second mom, I cannot imagine Bernice’s grief.
If I could have lunch with anyone it would be my mother. My mother and I had some rough times when I was an adolescent and married to my first husband but she was always therefore me and I would love to see her and speak with her. Due to mom’s illness and the helplessness that I have felt with that I am now likely going to pursue my masters in nursing in the health advocacy tract, I do not know how patients survive the system without someone there assisting them through the healthcare system and supporting them.
Men’s health is becoming more important to me, Jim is thirteen years older than I am so he is approaching retirement and I would like to keep him active and healthy. We are currently working on better nutrition, rather than the quick, convenient meals he has always eaten and we have come to eat in our marriage. My only super power is that I tend to unite people. I have never really fit into any click in society so my friends range from geeks and nerds to the not so intelligent; they come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and they all fit nicely in my world.