When Thomas Stevens was 22, he had a serious accident. He fell toward a window, and put his arms out to break the fall. Instead, his left arm went through the glass and he severed most of its tendons and arteries. His then-girlfriend, Sarah, had the presence of mind to make a tourniquet out of her blouse, tie it around his arm and call an ambulance.
“Oddly,” Thomas says, “I was somehow calm during all of this. Even though I heard the EMT telling Sarah that he didn’t think I would make it to the hospital, I still felt well taken care of.”
Once at the hospital Thomas kissed Sarah (“I did think I might not make it out of the hospital,”) and was rushed into Emergency surgery. He had lost so much blood that he could not have anesthesia so he was in a unique position of watching everything that went on. It was apparent that the operating team was working feverishly to reconnect all the arteries and tendons. Something else also held Tom’s attention. “During the surgery, a rather small nurse with dark brown, almost black hair and green eyes held my right hand and just kind of stood beside me,” he says. Apparently, this was the nurse’s only job, that, and offering encouragement to Thomas. “She told me frequently that I had to fight because there was so much left for me to do,” he recalls. But what?
Once in recovery, Tom’s family gathered, along with the physician who had performed the surgery. He asked to speak to Tom alone for a moment, so everyone else left the room. “Tom, you lost so much blood that you should have died,” the doctor began. “You’ve been given a second chance at life now, and you need to make the most of it.”
Tom asked for details of the surgery, and what kind of rehabilitation he would need to regain the use of his hand.
The doctor looked at Tom sadly. “Son, you’re re never going to regain any feeling in that hand—and you’re going to need extensive therapy to even be able to use it.”
Tom was shocked. He was so young, and this was a bitter blow. Almost immediately, he thought of the dark-haired nurse who’d brought him comfort during surgery and spoken so encouragingly to him. “Could I see her?” He asked the doctor.
The physician looked puzzled. “I don’t know who you’re talking about,” he said to Tom.
“Small and dark-haired..she held my hand,” Tom tried to explain, but the doctor was shaking his head. “There wasn’t any nurse in the room at all. Just me and the other surgeon.”
Then Tom understood. The nurse had been right. There were many more things he had to do with his life, and God would give him the grace to do it all.
Today, Thomas has not only completely regained the use of his hand, but is married and the father of three small children. He has also been serving for the past six years in the Air Force, with no complications to his hand. “I do have a scar,” he says. “It is about 8 by 6 inches, and is in the form of a cross on the bottom of my left forearm.” It’s a daily reminder that God did give Thomas a second chance—and he plans to make the most of it.
Joan Anderson Copyrighted by Joan Wester Anderson, used with permission. Originally appeared on the Where Angels Walk website, http://joanwanderson.com