A life saved – my grandson

I am so proud to be a nurse, and I’m glad to witness the fabulous work our nurses do at Sacred Heart Medical Center and St. Luke’s Rehab. Thank you to all the healthcare providers!

This story was published in the Spring-Summer 2023 issue of The Washington Nurse.

On Dec. 15, 2022, my 8-year-old grandson and our little Spokane family experienced a very scary situation.

At approximately at 8:30 in the evening, my husband and I received a text message from my daughter, Hannah. She asked for us to come quickly to their house and help. We live only three blocks away. My husband was able to arrive when two ambulances showed up. I was returning from a women’s group and drove over 15 minutes later.

My grandson, Henry, had been screaming and crying and complaining of a headache. Soon after, he started to have seizures. Henry had been complaining about headaches for the last two months and had been to the emergency department at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center two other times for observation, an MRI, and medication. But this was different. Henry had never had seizures, and the pain was excruciating.

From the ambulance and healthcare providers to the nurses and doctors in the emergency department, my family was treated with respect, quick response, and professional care.

Hannah rode with Henry to the hospital, and his stepfather, Jeff, directly followed in the car. We stayed behind to help with the other two children. Hannah and Jeff were stellar with text messages for all the family members so we knew what was happening. We were all so worried.

After stabilizing Henry, the emergency department took him for another MRI. That was what got everyone in motion. About six weeks earlier, Henry received an MRI that not only confirmed he was having migraine headaches, but also showed a minor arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

However, that night, the AVM was three times bigger and was bleeding. A neurosurgeon was called in, and surgery started at 11 p.m. Again, the nurses and other personnel were outstanding about relaying information to my daughter and Jeff. I knew several nurses at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, and I knew they were in good hands.

After calling in another neurosurgeon to help, Henry was out of surgery and resting. He was transferred to Peds ICU and cared for. The initial assessment of Henry was left-side paralysis. The next day, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist were at his bedside to do an initial assessment and draw up a plan of care. As you can well imagine, Henry was quite bewildered why his left arm and leg would not work. But he quickly learned he would need to work with the PT, OT, and nurses to get him better.

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Lynnette Vehrs visiting her 8-year-old grandson, Henry, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane.

My other daughter, Amy Lou, is a PT, and she and her husband, Matt, work in town at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center. They were filling the family in about what to expect.

When I think back about that time, everything worked so smoothly. Henry moved from the ICU to the pediatric floor where I could see him. That was a boost for me, just touching my grandson and talking with him. The nurses made me feel relieved.

Henry was progressing well and transferred to St. Luke’s Rehab on the same floor where my daughter and son-in-law work! Of course, they were not allowed to provide therapy for Henry, but they provided love and care to Henry and the rest of the family.

After three weeks of therapy, Henry was starting to walk a little bit, but his left arm was the toughest to get going. The day before Henry went home, the rehab therapists and social worker had a conference with the school district’s PT, OT, school principal, and his second-grade teacher. Everyone was on board and excited that Henry would start school again. Henry needed to see his friends and try to play.

We have had some minor setbacks in his level of tolerance of large crowds and lots of activity. His reading and math skills are coming back. Jeff took three months of family leave to get Henry to his outpatient therapy and other appointments and work with him at home. Jeff also picked up Henry halfway through the school day when he got exhausted.

Now, my little grandson can run and play, and his little sense of humor continues. I am so proud to be a nurse, and I’m glad to witness the fabulous work our nurses do at Sacred Heart Medical Center and St. Luke’s Rehab. Thank you to all the healthcare providers!

Lynnette Vehrs, MN, RN
WSNA President