Sometimes I wonder if those people are truly angels in disguise.
This week, I found one of my angels. Here’s the story … and the back story … but you need that to understand the story. 🙂
Last week, I spent a few unexpected days in the hospital. Cancer stinks and sometimes the treatments stink too.
For two weeks, we’d been watching a bizarre bruise develop on my right hip for no reason at all. No injury. No fall. Nothing.
After touching base with my oncologist again Saturday morning, he said it was time to head to the hospital. By the time I checked in, the bruise measured 45×20 cm with no apparent cause.
The ER staff at OSF St. Joseph’s were the lucky people who took on my medical mystery and were outstanding.
After tests and consultations, I was admitted. I sent my husband home to check on the kids (to make sure they were eating something other than pretzels and soda), and laid there quietly resting in one of the ER rooms while arrangements were made.
Being there brought me back to memories of one of the worst days of my life – which occurred in the same place about four and a half years ago.
In May 2011, I had been suffering for months from severe back and hip pain. After months of physical therapy the pain had become extreme. I went to my chiropractor and begged him to do any popping or cracking that would relieve it.
Instead, my Chiropractor sat and listened – asking me to describe in detail how the pain felt (like my hip bone was blowing up), specific locations (right hip and thigh), when it was better (never) and worse (always).
And then he asked me when was the last time I had seen my oncologist.
“What?!? You think this is cancer again?!?!” (At this point, I had been in remission for three years so was only seeing the doctor for occasional checkups.) He told me quickly he didn’t know what was causing the pain but wanted me to rule out cancer obviously.
Within a week I had an MRI, something showed up as abnormal, and a week later I had a bone biopsy.
Three days after the biopsy, I was at home wrenching in pain and the powerful pain killers weren’t keeping up. We went to the ER.
Sonya, RN, took me immediately to an exam room and made me as comfortable as she could. She asked all the right questions, helped me move my body, and worked with the doctor to get me even stronger pain meds right away. She cared for me like a mom cares for a sick child.
After checking my records and a basic exam, the ER doc came in, confirmed with me the stronger meds were controlling my pain, and then said words that filled me with dread:
“Make sure you call your oncologist tomorrow.”
He left the room. Sonya, my husband and kids, and I remained. With one glance, I knew my husband picked up on the comment too. I asked Kevin to take our boys for a walk around the hospital. And then I asked Sonya to have the doctor come back in.
The doctor awkwardly came in and I asked him to give me the results of the biopsy. After some discussion I told him I knew HE knew something about my biopsy and he finally said the words “metastatic breast cancer in the bones” and left the room.
Sonya and I remained.
Sonya immediately came over and held my hand. She gently rubbed my hair out of my face as I began to cry with tears that came from a place so deep inside me I didn’t know it existed. All I could say was, “No, God! No, God! I can’t do this again. No, God, I beg you no!!!
Sonya, a complete stranger an hour ago, held me like a child as I cried, as I wailed at God for a different diagnosis. And then she prayed for me. She held my hands and asked God to protect me and my family, to give me relief from the pain, and to guide the doctors in finding a cure. I felt her peace carry over me and was able to face my family and go home.
After I was released, I sent a note to thank her and she sent back the most compassionate note. But I was too tired that summer to stay in touch, or really do anything.
And I let Sonya, my angel, disappear from my life.
Fast forward again to last weekend (you remember, the bruise stuff).
After hanging in the ER for a while, Mother Nature does catch up with you. Soon, I was on the prowl for an unoccupied ER potty, roaming the halls in my rearview gown.
I passed several staff and made eye contact with one in a way that left me confused. Did I know her? Do I know anyone who works in this ER? Was she just helping me and I’m confused?
As I return to my room, this same nurse appeared in my doorway and simply said, “I think we’ve met before” with a warm smile.
It was Sonya. We hugged like sisters seperated at birth.
I won’t share all the details of last Saturday’s conversation, but Sonya remembered our first encounter as much as I did and has prayed for me since. I too have thanked God for her and shared with others what she did for me that terrible day. She saved my soul.
Sonya looked amazing – full of energy, readiness to serve, and still with a heart of gold.
And even though she appeared in human form, I can confirm she is still an Angel of Mercy for her patients.
I thank God for Sonya and all others like her who hold our hands and give us hope in the darkest of days. Blessings to you on this Thanksgiving weekend.