story and photo by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Elizabeth Rogers has experienced a lot in a short period of time.
A Chiara malformation – often detected after birth – led to brain surgery later in life for Rogers, a mother of two and registered nurse.
A defect in the base of her skull allowed brain tissue to slip into her spine.
Severe headaches and neck pain led to her losing range of motion.
She could barely turn her head. The pain was unbearable.
“During the moment having that severe pain I knew there was no way I could live my life,” she said.
At the time, it seemed as if her life might be over, even though she’d only been on this earth for nearly four decades.
“Now I just feel so much better. I’m so thankful they had an operation that would actually help and not live in pain on a daily basis,” she said, looking back at the November 2019 surgery.
So at a relatively young age, Rogers had already faced what she thought might be the end.
The experience, which spawned resilience and perseverance gave her a newfound lease on life.
One she promised she wouldn’t squander.
Growing up, Rogers always wanted to be a doctor. There was something about healing others that drew her.
Growing up with a respiratory therapist for a mom, Rogers knew the hands and feet of medicine truly were at the bedside.
A lunch meeting with her mom at the hospital cafeteria solidified her path.
“Just that moment I realized my heart was in healthcare,” she said.
A nurse since 2004, Rogers has poured her passion into helping others facing their end as a clinical manager for TenderCare Hospice in Norman.
“I like to serve people. It’s my passion to help others,” she said. “I just like to take care of people.”
Owner Brian Wilson ensures that caring for seniors is the company’s passion.
As a Medicare-certified agency, the company’s focus is solely on creating comfort for both patients and their families.
Tailoring care plans to the specific desires and needs of patients is first priority, while also preparing families for the road ahead.
Compassionate nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers are available 24-hours-a-day for on-going support. With an extensive geographic service area covering 29 counties and ability to deliver care at home, nursing home, or assisted living center, TenderCare Hospice is the choice of doctors and families across Oklahoma.
“Being a hospice nurse has really changed my outlook on life in general,” she said. “I had never had elderly care on my radar ever but when my kids got into school I thought I would try home health.
“From there, I just grew fond of the elderly. They can give you so much.” The prospect of entering hospice care frightened her.
“Once I got into it I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life,” she said. “These patients give you so much. It’s just amazing.”
“They thank us for what we’ve done but really it’s us that need to thank them. You learn that even though you’re going through hard times you’re going to get through it.”
Learning the stories behind each individual are some of the best parts of Rogers’ profession.
The joys, failures, successes and sorrows add depth to others’ lives.
“You realize they’ve gone some of the same stuff you have to go through whether it be financial, health, loss. Then you realize you’re going to be able to make it,” she said. “They teach you what life is really about.”
Rogers always tells her new nurses there’s no way you can understanding living without helping someone die. And learning how they live adds depth to your own life.
“Stories like that bring a whole lot to your life,” she said. “You realize you can get through this. This is not going to be the death of me. Other people have gone through this and it’s going to be OK. That’s probably the thing I enjoy the most about hospice, getting to know the people and learning from them.”
“It’s just an amazing field.”