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We invite readers to submit a story from your life when you saw a tender mercy from the Lord. that time when you felt particularly noticed or loved by the Lord. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On November 17, 2003, my 19-year-old daughter Heather was the first one out the door. She was in nursing school, and on her way to clinicals. After that she would head to school for a test, then to a pre-employment physical for her new job as a patient care tech, and finally to her current job as a theater manager. But it was not to be.
After leaving the nursing home where she did her clinicals, Heather’s car was T-boned by a car that ran a red light. Her neck was broken instantly in a “hangman’s fracture” at the C-2 level. This left her unable to breathe. But then the tender mercies began to unfold.
The ambulance house was close to the accident site and paramedics arrived quickly. They could tell Heather was not breathing, so she was intubated at the scene. She was whisked away to a hospital only a few miles away. Just six minutes had elapsed from the time paramedics received the call until they had her at the hospital.
It was a good thing the hospital was so close because Heather was bleeding internally. She was rushed to surgery where doctors removed her crushed spleen and stopped the bleeding. But every time the doctors came to the waiting room to report to me, they kept saying, “No sign of movement.” Heather was paralyzed.
She received a priesthood blessing, and late into the night I went home to try to get a little sleep.
The next morning a good friend and trauma nurse at a larger hospital called me. He told me that Heather really needed to be cared for in a level one trauma hospital–and the hospital she was in was only a level two trauma hospital. He had already spoken to the attending physician in the ICU, and they reserved the one available bed for Heather. My job, then, was to get the ball rolling to get the transfer authorized by the hospital, insurance company, etc. Within a few hours everything was in place, and Heather was air lifted to the larger, trauma one hospital. A nurse had to go with her to hold her head perfectly still.
Later that day I spoke to the orthopedic surgeon, a C-spine specialist and one of the best in the world, who would stabilize her neck. The eight hour surgery was performed on November 19. Heather pulled through the procedure and was now wearing a 30 pound halo vest to hold everything in place while she healed. Two days later, the doctor left the country for over a week, but he had been on hand when he was needed!
So many miracles had occurred to get Heather to this point! If the ambulance house hadn’t been so close, if the first hospital hadn’t been so close, if we hadn’t known the right person to get her to the trauma one hospital, and if the surgeon had not been available, the outcome for Heather might have been very different. I do not believe in coincidence; I believe in God and I know His hand was in this.
As Heather began to improve, the hospital staff began talking about rehab centers for Heather, where she could learn how to live life in her new situation. I had learned that it was imperative for her to go to a specialty hospital, where they specialized in dealing with spinal cord injuries. That would give Heather the best outcome and the best chance for a good quality of life.
However, my health insurance–an HMO–would only cover a general rehab hospital. This was not what I wanted. Open season for health insurance had come and gone. I was too stressed to even think about that! But one morning I felt impressed to call anyway, explain my situation, and see if I could change to a new health plan that would cover the expense of Heather going to a specialty hospital for rehab. Another tender mercy happened; yes, I was able to switch.
Now I started investigating the possibilities available for rehab. The social worker at the hospital was not encouraging, and advised me to “just try working with the system.” That was not acceptable, so I called the hospitals myself. There were no openings, but I kept calling. Finally, on Christmas Eve I woke up feeling that I just had to call Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, that day! I believe it was about 7:00 AM in the Midwest where I lived when I placed the call. The admissions person was actually at work that day. (She was Jewish.) She was so kind and explained the process of getting Heather admitted. AND, they accepted the new health insurance I had just switched to!
On the cold, crisp morning of January 7, 2004, Heather and I were flown by air ambulance to Shepherd Center where we would spend the next 7 weeks. It was exciting, but overwhelming at the same time. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like when we got back home. I was a widow with 2 other children at home besides Heather. It was scary to contemplate the future.
One Saturday while in Atlanta, I had gone to the grocery store for a few items. It was only a short walk back to the room where I was staying, but it was mostly uphill and my load of groceries was heavy. I felt discouraged and alone and I sobbed out, “I can’t carry this load! And I can’t carry that load either!” thinking of the burden of Heather’s care that was squarely on my shoulders. Immediately I felt the presence and peace of the Lord walking with me, and I was encircled in the arms of His love. It was as if He were saying, “You can do it, because I will walk with you.”
And He has. I won’t say it has been easy, but the Lord lightened my load so that I do not feel it is a burden at all. The Lord has blessed me with good health, physical strength and stamina, and inspired me in my care of Heather. As my other children left home, it was just Heather and me, but the Lord provided willing women to assist me with her care. As for Heather, she is healthy and happy. She does the ward bulletin every week, has taught youth Sunday School for 6 years, and attends the temple regularly. She is beloved by her students, her 26 nieces and nephews, and practically everyone who knows her. And she is my best friend. Life is good! We are blessed!
Truly, the tender mercies of the Lord are over all His works.