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Let Me Tell You About My Jesus

Let Me Tell You About My Jesus

Testimony from a KDMC ICU Nurse

Brandy York

The Ashland Beacon

In the fall of 2021, we were still deep into the COVID pandemic. As an ICU nurse at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, I worked every shift in our designated COVID ICU for a solid eight months before we were finally able to close the doors. I worked every shift there by choice; our leaders preferred to rotate staff between our general ICU and the COVID ICU to slow the burnout you could say. But after one shift in our COVID ICU, comprised of 10 beds approximately two feet apart and separated by disposable curtains (think battlefield hospital), I had a heavy burden on my heart for making the patients as comfortable and as at ease as possible. This was a nightmare for them.  The horror that was experienced, especially those awake and alert, was like nothing I’d ever seen in my career as an ICU nurse, which at that time had already spanned over a decade. So, I asked to work every shift in the COVID ICU until the doors closed. My leaders agreed, as long as I promised to tell them if/when I needed a break.  I then felt a weight lifted off of my chest and felt as though I was on a medical mission rather than another day at work.

It was November of that year when I met Jeri, a 35-year-old mother of two. She was admitted to us with the usual diagnosis- COVID pneumonia. She and I were only a year apart in age and my son was roughly the same age as her children.  It was easy to bond with her and ideally try to take her mind off the situation at hand with some casual conversation about our kids, where we went to high school, and our faith. I was sure to admire the kids’ pictures on her bedside table, and I always enjoyed seeing their artwork that said, “We love you Mommy” and “Mommy you are our world,” that would often be dropped off at the hospital doors.  Although no two days were the same and you never knew what the day would hold, we saw a pattern in the majority of our patients- spend some time on high flow oxygen and a bi-pap machine… maybe improve and move out to a regular room… or end up on a ventilator and most likely NOT leave alive. It was not unusual to send two to three patients to the morgue each shift.

Jeri spent several weeks in our unit trying to come off the bi-pap machine, a type of non-invasive ventilation that would help to force air into the lungs. COVID would bring a day or so of what looked like an improvement, only to push you two steps back. She had been awake and alert her entire stay, and unfortunately heard every end-of-life conversation and every code blue worked around her. Needless to say, she was fighting epic anxiety while also fighting for her life.

It was a typical morning coming into work; I headed to the fourth floor on the old side of the hospital to the corner of the building that looked rather abandoned, an area we simply referred to as 4A.  I would put my belongings in the break room and then get dressed for the day. Hair in a scrub cap, isolation gown, gloves, shoe covers, and the PAPR hood respirator. It felt much like suiting up for a space mission and looked a lot like it as well.

Upon entering the unit, I learned that Jeri was assigned to me that day and while getting the report, I was told that Jeri “had a bad night.” There had been issues keeping her oxygen saturation up and her anxiety down. While doing my assessment that morning, she stated she was feeling worse. I did my best to reassure her. As the morning went on, she began to have more frequent episodes of low oxygen and eventually did not rebound to a normal level. With her oxygen saturation holding steady in the 70s and the bi-pap already turned to the max at 100% oxygen, it was time for the dreaded talk. The talk that she had heard many times before around her. She knew what it meant, and she also knew the likely end result. The doctor said if she didn’t improve in the next hour she would need to be placed on a ventilator. I asked her if she wanted to call her family to help with the decision. She anxiously declined. She looked at me and begged me to not let her end up on the ventilator “because I’ll die” and “I need to get home to my babies.” She then asked if I could pray with her. I had tears in my eyes that I could not wipe away due to the face shield. I did not pray for a miraculous healing.  Instead, I held her hand in my gloved hand, and I prayed that God would give her peace and that His will be done and to give her family peace no matter the outcome and a testimony in the end.

As the hour began to come to an end, I noticed her breathing has eased. Her oxygen saturation was now in the 80s then the low 90s. I ran to her bedside and cheered for her and thanked God for the turnaround.  Having talked about our faith in previous weeks, I knew that Jeri was a Christian and was just as aware of this miracle in the making as I was. I grabbed her hand and with a big smile I exclaimed “LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY JESUS!!”  She was smiling as big as she possibly could through the bi-pap mask and she said “I love that song!”  I said, “Me too, girl! I love Anne Wilson!”  By the end of the day, the bi-pap was turned down to the lowest settings ever since her admission and by the next week she was transferred from the COVID ICU to a regular COVID room then home to her babies.

It’s rare that we in healthcare stay in close touch with a patient, but once in a while there’s a patient who specially touches our heart and changes our lives. For me that was Jeri. OUR testimony is one that I will never cease to share, and she has given me all the permission to do so! 

Several months after Jeri went home, I got to attend the Anne Wilson and Zach Williams concert at the Paramount Arts Center. It was an amazing night!  I was the first on my feet. I sang and worshiped to every song and was shocked to have a voice by the end!  While at the merchandise table I saw a silver bracelet that said, “Let Me Tell You About My Jesus.”  I knew I had to get it for Jeri; after all, it was “our song.” Soon after, I got the opportunity to see Jeri for the first time since she was my patient. We exchanged hugs and laughs and smiles, and I gave her the bracelet. COVID made us both stronger in our faith. Jeri continues to do well as she watches her babies grow, and I continue to go to work in my ICU at King’s Daughters, praying that He will use me and work through me as I go about my day.

Anne, you were just graduating high school when the world began to shut down due to COVID, and we began to see people in our own community become ill and succumb to the virus. We were in the heat of the pandemic in my hospital when your song was released. I know your song “My Jesus” has impacted so many others across the world, but I am writing this to make sure you know that YOUR song made a lasting impression as part of a miraculous testimony on a cold November morning just two hours east of your hometown, in a battlefield-appearing COVID ICU at the corner of the fourth floor on the old side of a small town hospital.

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