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January 8, 2008     Cape Gazette
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January 8, 2008

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28 - CAPE GAZE E - Tuesday, January 8 - Thursday, January 10, 2008 Womaa who stirred from coma had story to finish By Cathy D a, on " 'he Free Lat, .;-Starl' AP Wire S ;ce Rita -Ianson may..iU be 'alive becau: of a mJ.(,)w mouse named rimothy. TP 79-yeas-old likes t. write childn s stories and she was so dete'ned to get back to the tales of :?imothy and his friends, she came out of a coma five years ago. At least that's what she told her family after she survi,,ed the worst bout of her life She said she woke up bec;.use ::,e had things to do, incj[lding vrite. 'Taat "/as quite a t.m of events," she sai ' The aoment se ned to change the lif, of the w, man kt, o had never been - or even happy. Rita was. man,c dep',essive !J . . before peopl e knew wha/ , cal it or how to lteat it. Sr,  spmt decades in ad out of mei:  I hos- pitals, enduring unsafe am  nts of chemicals a.laB sho - treatm: nts. Then came diabetes. In 2002, when her blood sugar and symp- toms of bipolar disorder spir out of control, her heart stolaed and she went into a coma. Machines kept her alive, and doc- tors gave little hope. Her husband and four children said goodbye and took her off life support. Her oldest child, Steve, sat by her side for three days, waiting for the inevitable. On the fourth day, he walked into his mother's room to see her sitting upright in bed. "That's where the story takes an interesting turn," Steve said. Rita announced she was thirsty and that it was time to get busy. She wanted to write about Timothy again. Since then, Rita lived with her husband in Spotsy!vania County, Va., and struggled to keep her medical problems under control. She recently moved in with Steve and his wife, Pat Coffey, who make sure Rita eats the tight foods and takes her medicine. The three live in a log cabin on 37 picturesque acres in Beaverdam, Va., almost 40 miles south of Fredericksburg, Va., in Hanover County. There, Rita finds the inspiration she needs to write more tales from the woods. "I love this place," said Rim, who grew up in Massachusetts and still has a New England accent. "Every window I look out, I see birds." Steve smiled, glad to see his mother happy. He believes her recovery gave them both a second chance. Steve has vivid memories of his mother's battle with mental illness. The .day he got hi6 dri- ver's license, he had to take her to an institution. He knew she was miserable because of her health and home life, but there wasn't #ttr.00llOW00 t much he could do when he was younger. "I'm just the opportuni- ties for living that she missed," he said. He wants to make up for them now. He and Pat indulge Rita at every chance, by taking her to the Chesapeake Bay or to see her favorite blues artist, Fredericksburg singer Ann Rabson. Pat recently treat- ed her to a pedicure, her first in 79 years, and she daily serves afternoon tea in deli- cate china cups. "She's still here so we can spoil her," Pat said. "She deserves it." Steve also paid to have his mother's stories published in a book called, "Timothy Meadowmouse," which is avail- able online. He believes others will be inspired by the story behind the stories. "Her book may not be Pulitzer- Prize winning material, but I think she's here to give people hope," Steve said. "It's for the bipolar, the elderly, those who don't feel they have any value or anything to contribute anymore." Each short story offers a moral as it weaves tales of a pinecone that longs for adventure or a mouse who wants to see the world. Most focus on the value of friendship. There also are lessons about making the right decisions and the most of life. Rita could be the inspiration for a character who keeps going, no matter what comes her way. "I've known people in my life, as they get older, they get bitter," Steve said. "If there's anybody who deserves an attitude over what she's missed in life, it would be her, but she's not like that. She's the sweetest, most humble person in the world." LeWes woman named certified nurse educator The Nursing and \\;llicd Health Division at Wilmington University recently ,i,mounced Denise Westbrook t,f Lc,ves earned the designati4,J, ceJlified nurse educator after successfully completing a rigorous certification examination developed and administrated by the National League of Nursing. Four out of the nine faculty members in the college's Nursing and Allied Health Division are now certified nurse educators. Westbrook graduated from Beebe School of Nursing, earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Wilmington University in 2001, and completed her master of sci- ence degree in nursing from the same institution in 2003. Westbrook is an experienced nurse and has worked in perianesthesia care areas and the emergency room. She has been teaching at Wilmington Uniwr,,Ix since 2004 and teaches in b, th the bachelor's and master's programs. Westbrook is also the National League of Nursing ambassador for Wilmington University, educating and informing nursing colleagues and educational leaders about the benefits of the National League of Nursing. There are numerous benefits to earning certified nurse educator status. This certification is a mark of professionalism that allows nursing educators to serve as lead- Bayhealth's Varanko earns orthopaedic nursing certification Dianne Varanko, RN, BS, ONC, coordinator of the Total Joint Center at Bayhealth Medical Center-Milford Memorial Hospital, recently became orthopaedic nurse certi- fied through the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board. To become certified, Varanko had to have an active registered nursing license, work 1,000 hours in an orthopaedic setting and pass the orthopaedic certification exam. Varanko may now use the credentials ONC, which stands for orthopaedic nurse certified. "I found out about the certifica- tion when I went to the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses national conference in May," said Varanko. oined this association for the VARANKO journals and great information on best practices in orthopaedics, which we have used in develop- ing protocols at both campuses." A Bayhealth rehabilitation nurse since 1998, Varanko was previously a lead/charge nurse at the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Milford Memorial Hospital and the relief house supervisor for Milford Memorial. Varanko is currently pursuing her master's degree in nursing at Wesley College. After receiving her bachelor's degree in foreign languages and literature from the University of Delaware, Varanko earned a practical degree in nurs- ing in 1998 and an associate's degree in nursing in 1999, both from Delaware Technical & Community College. ers and role models. Certified nurse educators meet the highest standards of excellence. With a vast number of nursing educators projected to retire with- in the next decade and nearly three quarters within the next 15 years, replacing them is of grave con- cern, said National League of Nursing President Dr. Elaine Tagliareni." "We must encourage more nurse faculty  prepare for certification as nurse educators so that our nursing schools can be PROTE6"T FORYOHIVle4PTEST IT'S f/r, ;IIA.E, PAIM.E. C AKID ACCURATE. PI.IJ 37"$ IPER-EAIYI RAPID TEWrIN l..q AVAILABLE DAILY. CAMP RE:HOBOTH AT 302-227-5620 FOR WALX-IN T'/NtC- OR TO .,CHEDtJt.E AN APPOZNTtz-'NT. WEEKEND AND EVlEND4a APPOINThNT ARE ,N..,O AVAILABLE. dET YOUR I.J T$ IN 20 ,INUTE$! staffed by academicians of the highest caliber," said Tagliareni. For more information about Wilmington University's Nursing or Allied Health programs visit or call 877 -967 -5464.