This is a follow-up story to Shannon’s ongoing grief journey. To read the full back story please click here.
“This took me a while to compose because I couldn’t find the right words to truly express our gratitude. While the outcome of Kinsley’s illness was not how we wanted it to end, the care, compassion, attention, time, intelligence put into saving her was nothing short of extraordinary. The nurses, doctors, and hospital staff were the most remarkable group of people my husband and I have ever come across.
The machines, medications, procedures, and ‘plan each day’ for my daughter were impressive. I remember saying to my husband several times, ‘I do not know how they do it.’ One nurse went home at night later than 7 p.m. and returned at 7 a.m. to be back with Kinsley. Not only did they know how very sick she was and that she was most likely not going to make it but they also watched us come in, visit with Kinsley, crying over her, knowing these would be the last moments we would have with our baby girl. There were three nurses for my daughter 24 hours a day. There was one nurse who didn’t leave the ECMO machine. This nurse sat in the room by that machine watching numbers, the machine keeping my daughter alive, and she never left it. They would switch in and out to be able to use the bathroom or eat. These women were the definition of selfless, strong and compassionate.
My life was consumed by time prior to this event and just like that, time seemed meaningless. There was no place I needed to be other than with my baby. I remember apologizing for bothering the nurses. I checked in every 30 minutes throughout each day and night. I wasn’t eating or sleeping, just scrolling through pictures of her on my phone or walking the hospital. We didn’t stay long each time we checked in but just long enough to see her and get an update. Never once did they act like we were bothering them. In fact, all they kept saying is, ‘She’s yours,’ like they were the ones in my way. They encouraged us to come in. It was an overwhelming sight and something extremely difficult to swallow. Most of the time, I just watched in awe from afar or I stepped in to kiss her head. I realized I wasn’t leaving the hospital with her, that’s when I spent hours talking with her, rubbing her hands, her hair, her legs, and sharing stories with the nurses as they worked around me. I talked to Kinsley about her sisters and shared the letters they wrote her. I shared old memories of her and her daddy and how Ford was missing her.
The nurses took the time to ask for pictures of her and her siblings. They all said, ‘She’s stunning!’ I could tell they truly enjoyed hearing stories about Kinsley.
Kinsley had an overwhelming number of visitors, what can I say? She was an amazing, well-loved kid with a pure heart, beautiful inside and out. The security guards, front desk attendees, and nurses were so accommodating to all her visitors and they knew who Kinsley was, ‘Ms. Kinsley, PICU, room 308.’ One of the guards said, ‘There are a lot of people coming to see Ms. Kinsley.’ At one point, I walked into the family waiting area and it was consumed with people there for Kinsley. They waited with us all day, just to hear some sort of hopeful news or just to spend the last few moments with our girl.
Kinsley’s second-grade teacher came to see her. She was something so special to Kinsley. Kinsley loved her. Coach Kip came to see Kinsley and I immediately started to cry when he came through the doors with a soccer ball in his hands. Kinsley challenged him like she challenged us from a very young age. The nurses put the soccer ball at the bottom of her bed and would talk to her about it. I would come around the corner and catch them talking to her. ‘Ms. Kinsley, we are gonna get you cleaned up now.’ I could hear them talking with her about all her visitors and who they got to meet. When the time came for us to turn off the machine, the nurses braided her hair and put a blue bow in it.
By this point, they knew she was a soccer player with big bows. They had never truly met Kinsley but from all the stories and visitors, they came to know her and love her like we did. I have heard amazing things about this hospital but until you experience it firsthand, you really have no idea exactly how incredible this place is and the extraordinary people working there.
Kinsley’s nurses and doctors from Calvert were awesome as well. They did get to experience her amazing personality for a bit, and called and checked on her the entire time we were at Children’s. Kinsley’s nurse and doctor from Calvert, as well as her nurses from Children’s, showed up at her funeral. I can’t even begin to tell you what that meant to us. I was so taken back, in shock, I couldn’t even get out the words. My husband leaned in to hug them, tears streaming down his face and said, ‘Please tell me you show up to every funeral.’ He already knew the answer. We knew our Kinsley was special, but it was overwhelming to know Kinsley made a profound impact on everyone, including those who never got the chance to meet her. We are proud to call Kinsley ours.
We want to thank the staff at Children’s Hospital for taking good care of us and our daughter for the time she was there and the staff at Calvert for getting us to where we needed to be. In a world that can seem so dark, you are the light. There are good people, who do good things. For all the staff in every hospital across the country right now, dealing with this pandemic, thank you for being there and taking care of our country. To be in the medical profession right now is to truly watch what selflessness looks like and we could all use a little perspective and lesson in selflessness, empathy, and doing our part.
Thank you to each one of you from Ms. Kinsley Reese and the Sandvik Family. You give the world hope!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shannon Sandvik. Follow her journey on her website here and Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Shannon here:
‘Her eyes looked up at me in panic. ‘Mommy, it’s blood.’ We were just in the ER and everything said she was fine. My stomach about hit the floor.’: Family says goodbye to their ‘forever Valentine’ after battle with flu
‘We were at dinner when I said, ‘Hell, give me another drink. I may take up smoking too.’ Kinsley was as healthy as a horse and in a week span, she was dead.’: Mom loses daughter unexpectedly to flu
‘She constantly pissed us off. Lord, did she stir up drama. Now, I’m pissed there will always be an empty seat. The family dynamic has been rocked.’: Mom continues to make memories after daughter’s passing, ‘We are going to find something to smile about’
‘Be grateful all of them are in one house alive and healthy, because mine aren’t. The fighting used to annoy me. Now, I’m glad they’re even here to fight.’: Mom says ‘they will remember what you do during this quarantine’
‘We won’t get to take fireball shots together when she turns 21. She’ll never get to drive the red jeep with no doors that she wanted. We were robbed.’: After losing daughter to flu, mom is reminded that ‘love is permanent’
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