Shared experience knits friends together

Staff writer

As country neighbors, Myrna Hamm and Jeanne Rziha of rural Durham, have shared many experiences. With almost a dozen children between them, husbands that farm, the same home church, and jobs that overlap at Greenhaw Pharmacy downtown Hillsboro, Hamm and Rziha have a lot to discuss when they get together.

As Hamm was re-teaching Rziha how to cast-on knitting needles while picking up medical folders, they had a chance to reminisce about an experience they shared 25 years ago that changed their lives forever.

“It was one of those days I will remember forever,” Hamm said. “The weather was cloudy and cold, kind of like early May this year. I was pregnant with my second child, and I knew I was in trouble as we headed to the hospital.”

Hamm and her husband, James, called ahead to Salem Hospital (now known as Hillsboro Community Hospital) to let the emergency room know that she was in labor, even though it was almost two months until her due date.

“I had just started working at the hospital and was not even certified for emergency room work yet,” Rziha said. “I put a call in to the person in charge of obstetrics but did not get an answer. I was the only one there and I started praying right away as soon as I heard Myrna was coming in.”

Rziha worked as an OBGYN at Herington Hospital prior to joining the Salem staff, but she was nervous about the situation at hand. Hamm, however, said God put her friend right where she needed her that night so many years ago.

“I was so glad to see Jeanne when we got there about 8:40 p.m.,” Hamm said. “I was so scared, but we both started praying Hail Mary’s together and hoped for the best.”

Hamm’s six-week premature baby boy, Lucas, was born on May 2, only 11 minutes after she and her husband got into the emergency room at the hospital.

“He was having trouble breathing so we put oxygen on him right away,” Rziha said. “He was alive, and strong considering how early he was, just not quite ready to be out in the world.”

Hamm said her baby boy was long and skinny, so thin around the chest that she could put her thumb down on one side and touch her middle finger to the bed on the other.

“We Life Watched him to Wichita because he needed neo-natal care,” Hamm said. “With Jeanne beside me, I knew it would all turn out all right.”

From a small start at 5 lbs., 8 ounces, Hamm’s son Lucas grew up under the watchful eyes of his parents as well as concerned neighbor, nurse, and friend Rziha.

“I was his 4-H leader and taught him in religion class at the Catholic Church in Tampa,” Rziha said. “I am just glad God heard our prayers when he was born.”

Hamm and Rziha see each other at least two or three times each week, but when Mother’s Day rolls around each year, their thoughts often turn to that early May day 25 years ago when they worked together to bring a child into the world and keep him alive.

“He turned out to be a very solid baby,” Hamm said. “I fed him for the first time the day before Mother’s Day, and brought him home after 13 days in the hospital, which was the day before my birthday. Now he is six feet, three inches tall and weighs over 200 pounds.”

Lucas went on to play fullback on the Kansas State University football team in 2009 and 2010, but now lives in Marion County and farms with his father and grandfather. He also works at Mid-Kansas Cooperative in Abilene.

Hamm works as billing secretary for Greenhaw Pharmacy, and Rziha is the coordinator for Greenhaw’s wellness clinic.

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