Patient Story

Brain Injury Patient says she had 'Angels' looking over her

“The Lord was not ready for me. I guess I got things to do here.” - Shirley Eskew

Brain Injury Patient says she had 'Angels' Looking Over Her

What began as a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom turned into a nightmare—and then a miracle—for 83-year-old Chillicothe resident Shirley Eskew. After getting out of bed, Shirley slipped and fell. “I just hit the concrete hard,” she remembers. Things got blurry after that, but she did manage to call for help and get to the emergency room at Hedrick Medical Center.

Shirley had a large bump on her head, and her eye was swollen shut, but the hospital’s staff was happy to see that, although she was in pain, she was talking and acting normally.

With a head injury, however, it’s necessary to check for hidden—and potentially much more serious—problems.

“Our first priority was to see if she had an internal bleed after such a hard fall,” says Jeremiah Hamilton, a technician who was on call that night.

He began doing CT scans to get a fuller picture, and unfortunately, they confirmed the staff’s worst fears: Shirley did have a brain bleed, and it was a large one. “It put a sinking feeling in my stomach,” Jeremiah remembers.

Things went downhill fast. Within 15 minutes, Shirley became very agitated and started vomiting. Soon she was completely unresponsive, showing no reaction to pain, a lack of reflexes, and trouble breathing.

The Hedrick team knew that Shirley’s symptoms indicated a severe neurological injury—one that required intervention by specialists. Time was critical, so the team immediately arranged for her to be transported to Saint Luke's Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, where a full team of neurologists was waiting.

“We just cried, we prayed, we mourned, we hoped,” says Arminda Pool, one of Shirley’s nurses.

Things were out of their hands at that point, and Jeremiah started to leave the room. That’s when a strange feeling came over him. “I went to the door and it was like I hit a brick wall—Boom!—I felt the Holy Spirit come upon me.” It was God telling him to pray for Shirley. “I heard God tell me to stop, and I listened,” he remembers. “I thought, God, this seems impossible, but You are in the business of impossible.”

Jeremiah answered the call and returned to Shirley’s side, where he prayed for her recovery. But given the nature of emergency care, where patients come and go, he knew that he’d likely never know the outcome. He could only do what God had asked.

Several days later, Arminda traded one of her nursing shifts so she could do some training at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kanas City, where she wouldn’t ordinarily be. At one point, she glanced over to see a patient who looked familiar. She felt an overwhelming desire to speak to her. “I was there, she was there, and it was far off the main path,” Arminda remembers. “I thought, What are the chances here?”

The odds were long, but it turned out it was Shirley. After arriving at Saint Luke’s the week before, her condition had only continued to get worse. She was groggy and having trouble speaking coherently. Doctors rushed her into the operating room, performing an emergency craniotomy to stop the bleeding in her brain. Fortunately, the surgery was successful, and despite the severity of her injury and her grim prognosis, she showed remarkable steps toward recovery in the days that followed. When Arminda heard Shirley’s story, the two women hugged and cried in relief and gratitude.

“The Lord was not ready for me,” Shirley says. “I guess I got things to do here.”

Arminda passed the good news along, and Jeremiah was overwhelmed and grateful that God had answered his prayer. “I always believe God can do amazing things if we totally rely on Him,” he says. “I’ve just never experienced it at that magnitude.”

Shirley, who has made a full recovery and is doing great, remembers little of what happened, but she knows one thing: God delivered her to the people she needed that night.

She says, “I told Jeremiah and Arminda they must have been my angels that day.”