Throughout my treatment, I had many amazing nurses. One tasted my medicine, to ease my anxiety about what it would taste like. One counted how many times my stuffed dog Katie, who was laying on my chest went up and down, to get my respiration rate, instead of waking me in the middle of the night and so many other showed patience when dealing with a newly diagnosed teenager.
One nurse stands out. Her name was Linda. November 26, 2020 God called her home. Sadly, she died of cancer, a disease she spent her career helping children fight. I have no doubt that she gained her official angel wings from God, as she was my angel.
Linda spent her career helping children fight cancer, families cope with the diagnosis and advocating for her patients. She helped train countless nurses to do the same and the world is a better place because she was in it.
In my book, Faith, Hope and Cancer: The Journey of a Childhood Cancer Survivor, chapter 6 – God Works in Mysterious Way is dedicated to Linda, the miracle I witnessed and how God placed her in my life at just the right time. This is an excerpt from my book:
“Four months after my diagnosis, I had a Friday off. I was excited to have the day off where I didn’t have a clinic appointment and I could stay home. Then I developed a fever of 101 degrees. It wasn’t my first fever, but it would turn out to significantly impact my life. Mom and I held off as long as we could before going the hospital. When you have cancer, you follow the “Fever Rule.” Any fever over 100 degrees is a serious fever and you must be admitted for observation. My day off was cancelled. There we were, once again being admitted to the hospital. Once I was admitted, blood cultures were taken to try to determine the cause of my fever and my nurse started administering broad-spectrum antibiotics through my Broviac catheter.
Throughout my cancer treatment I watched everything that was happening to me. That day and throughout the weekend I noticed a pulsing in the IV line, something I had never seen before. I asked each nurse on every shift why it was pulsing, and each nurse thought nothing of it. I wanted an answer because in the past four months, I had never seen my IV line pulsing. I was very aware this was something different and I wanted to know why.
What happened next I can only attribute to another miracle. Monday morning, Linda was supposed to be in a meeting, but it was cancelled, allowing her to come to work. She was one of the nurses who genuinely enjoyed having me as a patient, and when she saw I was in the hospital, she wanted to be the one taking care of me. When she came to check on me, I asked her about the pulsing in the line. Linda was there when I was diagnosed and remembered three seemingly disconnected facts: one, that my blood would not clot when the Broviac was originally placed; two, that my body went numb with every IV; and three, the tests that had been done never revealed why I had a fever and why my fever would not go away, even though I was given a battery of antibiotics to kill everything. She was able to connect the dots.
She explained the pulsing was most likely caused by my heartbeat, but that it should not be doing that. She suspected my Broviac wasn’t in the right place, but the doctors disagreed. She really stood up for me and argued with them to get an x-ray taken. When the results of the x-ray came back, it showed nothing wrong with the placement of the Broviac. My doctors wanted to send me home on antibiotics, but Linda was still not convinced, especially since there was still no cause for my high fever or pulsing IV line. She would not sign my release papers until the doctors ordered one more test and proved to her that everything was safe. My doctors were not happy, but they ordered a blood gas test anyway.
Linda was right: The blood gases were from arterial blood, not venous. My Broviac had been placed in an artery, instead of a vein where it should have been. Once the mistake was discovered, my fever broke and never returned.
The Broviac being in an artery explained the excessive bleeding the day the Broviac was placed, the left-sided numbness (the doctors now believed the fluid going through the IV was hitting a nerve and causing the tingling sensation), and the pulsing in the line. My doctors and nurses were surprised I hadn’t experienced any complications such as a blood clot or stroke due to the misplaced Broviac.
I’m a firm believer the excessive bleeding, tingling, and pulsating IV line were signs from God. He was trying to show us my central line was in the wrong spot, but God doesn’t fix man-made problems. God only guides man to find the problems and fix them. He sends us living angels to do the work for Him. My fever put me in the hospital and Linda’s meeting being cancelled allowed her to be my nurse. These two events allowed Linda to put all the pieces together and discover my medical mistake. May 9th, God sent me Linda, she’s my living angel.
I believe my medical mistake is an example of God working in mysterious ways. Some might say it was a coincidence, but I think otherwise. Why? Because everything had a purpose and reason for happening. God knew my Broviac was placed in an artery, God knew He needed to create signs for it to be discovered, and God sent me Linda. He had a plan the minute there was a problem. As much faith as we have in God, He has the same faith in us.”
I will forever be grateful that Linda was my nurse that on May 9, 1994. She was an amazing nurse who not only cared for so many kids like me.
The same way God worked in mysterious ways years ago, God did the same thing this year. Even though 2020 has been an interesting year to say the least, God has never left us. I recently came home back to Ohio for two weeks. During those weeks, it just so happened to be Linda’s birthday. I was able to see her for the first time in 26 years. Granted it was through a window, but when she saw me her jaw dropped. Linda had given me so much, so it was nice to be able to make her smile on her birthday.
Linda you changed my life, you were sent by God to be my angel and you will always have a special place in my heart.