This chapter is dedicated to the memory of Lynne Sausse Truxillo, RN, who died on April 11, 2019 from injuries sustained during an assault on a patient while on duty at Baton Rouge General Hospital.
It is not my place to intrude on the privacy of people who collect the pieces of their lives, which have been shattered by the loss of a loved one. As I write this chapter, I am aware that hardly a year has passed since the lives of a mother, daughter, sister, wife, aunt, friend, and colleague were tragically taken from the world.
A year is a short time, no doubt doggedly measured in holidays, family gatherings, celebrations of life, and seasons. I can only imagine how each of these obstacles opens the scars of that loss. Please understand that I am writing solely from my heart with information supplemented by a simple internet search for Lynne Truxillo, RN.
An obituary could be considered the final summary and statement of life lived. An obituary served, and serves, the vital purpose of boiling the sap of life in the sweet syrup of memory.
Much of what we think is vitally important to achieving and maintaining a good life, full of well-organized financial stability and a lean physique, has evaporated. The essential ingredients of a timeless legacy – family, friends, compassion, traditions, and integrity – provide the pleasant flavor that lasts. By reading Lynne’s obituary, I knew that Lynne left many traces on her life’s journey. His rich legacy contains the sweetness of humor, loyalty, kindness, love, and the gift of bringing a healing touch to those who were struggling.
This story began on April 4, 2019, when a patient started an altercation with one of Lynne’s nursing colleagues. Lynne intervened to protect her colleague and the patient subsequently turned his attention to physically assaulting her. During that violent attack, Lynne suffered multiple injuries that, according to the medical examiner, ultimately cost her her life.
At this point, you might even be wondering why I feel compelled to spend time ruminating on the life and times of a woman I’ve never met. However, from what I have read about Lynne Truxillo, I know I would have liked it. According to articles written, she was fun and fun, a devoted mother, and received an award for being an exemplary volunteer at her children’s school. She was passionate about helping people and she loved nursing.
She was a native of New Orleans and loved everything about Mardi Gras.
What gave me a strong feeling of affinity and fierceness about the death of a stranger? Simply put, when I looked at the list of his injuries sustained in an assault on a patient, I understood that it could have been written about me.
I was saved; Lynne wasn’t. As simple as that.
An empty space has taken the place of who should have been there, but has been abruptly snatched away.
While I have a voice, Lynne’s was forcibly taken from her. By dying, Lynne gave me something that was missing since I was attacked: clarity of purpose. When he rushed to help a co-worker, he set an example for all of us. Lynne’s story helped me find my own voice to advocate for safe health care workplaces and to share ideas and resources to heal myself from workplace violence.
I can imagine the horror of seeing a colleague attacked. I’m concerned about the co-worker Lynne protected that day, as being a survivor can be very bittersweet. I can feel the shock of how quickly the violence escalated, savoring the bitterness of despair of being alone in the immediate first seconds of the downward spiraling situation.
I can breathe the “canned” air in the hospital and smell the anguish of not knowing how this whole mess will end.
I can imagine Lynne stepping in without hesitation to protect a co-worker. He probably didn’t even think about it. She just did.
I can feel the urgency and potential destiny that precedes Lynne’s last trip to the hospital, and I can feel the fear of defeat on April 11, 2019, when the medical staff at the hospital where Lynne died realized that attempts to resuscitation was unsuccessful.
We all lost so much that day, but Lynne’s family suffered the most tremendous loss of all. The story is Lynne’s and theirs. It is not mine; I can only feel and imagine the ripples in the pool of their lives, after that stone was brutally thrown into it. I can only imagine his pain and suffering. But I feel that we should all try to understand; We must all let Lynne and others like Lynne go on living without allowing their death to be in vain.
Lynne, you see, filled a vast space in the universe, but her family now faces a world in which a huge void has taken their place. Your seat will remain empty on holidays and family dinners. Your images will not appear in your children’s wedding photos.
The rest of us have lost a kind, compassionate, and selfless healer. Our humanity has been diminished.
I would like to think that there is a paradise with a place reserved for people who work in health care. I can almost imagine how beautiful it would be … full of color, flowers, and lots of sparkles.
I imagine this beautiful nurse greeting newcomers by organizing the souls of residents at one of New Orleans’ traditional events, a second line. I close my eyes and see a long parade filled with departed friends, family and colleagues waving handkerchiefs and dancing happily behind a heavenly metal jazz band playing that old Big Easy classic, “When the Saints Go Marching in.”
Rest in peace, Lynne.
June Garen is a nurse and author of Hey, I could use a little help here! My story of violence in the health care workplace.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com