A 24 Hour Shift
Published: Dec 9, 2019

Written by Christian Gausvik

Shifts that long are commonplace in the medical world – especially during training – and heck even 24 hours might sound short to some physicians. Regardless, it was 2016, third year of medical school, hour 16 on a surgery rotation and I was sitting on the hard twin bed in a musty, dimly lit call room wide awake, waiting for the pager to go off, too nervous that if I slept I might miss its piercing beep.  Between practice questions for an upcoming licensing exam my mind wandered. I remembered back to my first job – the experiences at age 15 that started this all. I never thought working in healthcare was going to be my passion. I certainly did not think older adult care and geriatrics was in my plans. In fact I wanted to go to culinary school and open a restaurant. 

My first job changed it all. I took it because it was close to home, convenient for a non-driving teen and the people seemed nice. Not a week in, I realized there was something more to this. I was working in an assisted living, caring for the residents and helping them through their daily routines. Quickly, I was an embedded part of this place that so many called home. I learned their names, then their pets, their grandchildren, their likes and dislikes and everything in between.


Slowly, we joked, we laughed and at times were sad as someone passed away. No matter what though the stories kept me coming back. Stories of Cincinnati’s past, of 5 cent hamburgers and of doing house work by hand, raising a dozen kids or teaching for forty years. Stories of substance, that were real and filled with emotion. No matter how many stories I heard, and in some cases heard over and over again, they never got dull.

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I saw their stories stolen away by Alzheimer’s…

I was there in that job a total of nearly 8 years through high school and college. As you might imagine, over that time I saw people grow older, I saw friends pass away, couples left alone and most tragically I saw their stories stolen away by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. I cannot express the sadness and anger that comes with seeing that happen to people you once laughed with, joked with, told stories with, looked up to and these were not even my parents, aunts, uncles or siblings. What must this be like for those who feel this even closer to home? Sadly I learned about that as my Great Grandfather succumbed to this thief-of-stories just after I started the job.

What if we could give life to these stolen stories…

Sitting on the bed that long night in medical school I had an idea. What if we could give life to these stolen stories, give voice to those who lost theirs, what if we could bring people together to talk, share, connect and support around this terrible disease. That was it. The idea was born and not a few minutes later the alliteration “Mimosas for Memories” popped into my head and snowballed from there. The next day I feverishly called every venue in town hoping someone would be as excited as I was, until one special lady was (but thats another post so stay tuned). We dreamed up ideas and found incredible support and help in this amazing city and in 2016 welcomed over 150 passionate people like you to Mimosas for Memories for the first time. 


Thinking back on that night I remember the people who inspired our first event and what it has grown to today as we launch Giving Voice. It has always been, and will always be, about the stories and their voices and how we remember them. Perhaps Lily Tomlin as Frankie put it best when she said “The afterlife is how we are remembered by the living.” Whatever we can do to give that voice back when it is stolen: through advocacy for better healthcare, through education, by supporting caregivers or by simply telling their important stories, that is what we aim to do and we will do it by bringing people together. That 24 hour shift was well worth it.


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