The strangest, almost miraculous, things sometimes happen to us at a time when we're experiencing our most horrific moments. I found that out on July 20 when I was rushed to Banner-University Medical Center in Tucson after an aortic abdominal aneurysm burst while my wife, Betty, and  I were at home in Green Valley. 

This was my fourth aneurysm, one that had been scheduled to be taken care of on Aug. 27.

Brilliant  Banner surgeons saved my life. But after successfully putting a stent  on my aneurysm, I flat-lined three times. That was because a hematoma had developed in the area of my heart and lungs and chaos ensued. That event caused me to start losing virtually all of my blood pressure and massive amounts of fluids were pumped into me to re-establish that waning blood pressure.

Super adroit surgical procedures, and the prayers of friends and the congregation of Evangelical Free Church of Green Valley, carried the day. I was blessed with the greatest gift a person can receive — life after near-death.

I was tenderly cared for in ICU for 11 days. Nurses would come into my room at night to tend to me. Bless their collective hearts because you wouldn't believe what I found out about the backgrounds of three nurses. Their backgrounds reflect a current buzz topic of discussion in U.S. politics.

One night, a young  Chicana nurse appeared to administer my 11 o'clock pills. After she’d done so, I asked her (my minor in cultural anthropology forced me to), "What is your ethnic background?" She at first demurred, then  replied, "Well, you're not going to believe this, but I'm a DACA child."  

I listened in disbelief as she told me of her historic struggle to achieve the status she'd now arrived at as a practicing nurse. The story's too long to repeat here but, trust me, it's truly remarkable.

Several days later, I was in the care of two other bright, witty, dedicated nurses from the tiny impoverished village of San Luis, which lies just outside of Yuma on the well-traveled route to San Diego. These two, like my previous nurse, allowed me to query them as to how in the world they'd achieved what they had coming out of such difficult circumstances. They were now esteemed nurses at a venerated medical institution. I was amazed they'd had the audacity, drive and intelligence to achieve what they'd achieved coming from where they'd come from. Amazingly courageous women.

My last nursing story, I think, is the real stunner. A week after the two aforementioned incidents, I was sleeping into the night when a nurse came out of the darkness, switched on the lights and asked if she could check my vitals. I immediately recoiled, awakened from my slumber by a tall black female in her customary Muslim headgear. At second glance, I thought she looked like a Black Madonna. She was truly that pretty.

After my vitals are taken, Anthro background once again kicked in. and she graciously told me her story. Her family came to the shores of America to escape the ghastly horrors of war-ravaged Somalia. Upon arriving in America, she and her brothers attended Rincon High School in Tucson. She and her brothers all achieved academic and athletic honors and her oldest brother is about to try out to join the vaunted Chelsea, England soccer team.  Now there's an American success story.

Now to get to the point of what I was trying to relate to you in the tales I've just shared, Please, please, please don't denigrate people who immigrate to the U.S. They are the ones who make America great.

Jim Herman is a retired teacher who lives in Green Valley.

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