Healthcare professionals make it all look so cool: physical examinations, diagnosis, treatment. Complicated as everything may be, doctors and nurses also have a way of making each patient feel safe and assured.
But behind the composure and professional demeanor hides the nitty-gritty: long hours, difficult patients, determination enveloped in anxiety to save lives, having to be the bearer of joyful or heartbreaking news, and so much more.
Their resilience, empathy, and hard work don’t get rewarded enough but thankfully, there are patients (and their families) who know just how to make doctors and nurses feel loved and appreciated.
Braden West is the perfect example.
When he was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, Braden was diagnosed with Pfeiffer Syndrome, type 2.
Pfeiffer Syndrome is defined as a complex genetic disorder that affects a child’s head, face, hands, and feet. It may include craniosynostosis, midfacial hypoplasia, proptosis, crowded teeth, cleft palate, and more. Clinical features range from mild to severe and vary for different children.
Type 2 Pfeiffer Syndrome is a more severe form. It is characterized by midface hypoplasia and hydrocephalus. A child diagnosed with Type 2 Pfeiffer Syndrome may experience significant developmental delays and a shortened lifespan.
(Source: Boston Children’s Hospital)
Braden’s mom, Cheri West, shares that things already looked bleak from the beginning.
“The doctor said that he first of all would not live and if he does live, he’ll be severely handicapped, blind and deaf.”
Because of his condition, Braden’s airways were badly blocked and doctors had to send him to hospice care.
Michele Linn was the nurse assigned to care for Braden. She knew he wasn’t expected to live long but she still spent hours by Braden’s side, praying. Then, only a few months in hospice care, Braden’s breathing worsened.
“I honestly wasn’t sure if he would make it to morning. As I watched him struggle all throughout the night, I remember pleading with God to please just take him or make him better, it was just too hard for him, his family, and all those involved in his care.”
Worried as she was, Michele refused to lose hope. A firm believer in answered prayers, the dedicated nurse shares how Braden’s condition miraculously began to improve over the next few months. Everything went so well that Braden was eventually discharged.
Doctors used to tell Braden’s family that he wouldn’t live to be 18 months old.
What they didn’t realize was how amazingly Braden would beat all the odds stacked against him.
This year, Braden just turned 18 and celebrates not just another year of life but his high school graduation, too.
And because each milestone deserves to be celebrated, Braden’s parents thought of the most incredible way to treasure the moment.
They reached out to Michele and asked if she would take Braden’s senior portraits.
“What better person to do the photos then the person I feel used God to save my son’s life.”
Michele may not be a professional photographer but her love for Braden and the friendship they share made the portraits perfect.
On a Facebook post, she writes,
“To know him is to love him. He is kind, smart, loves his family, friends, fishing, planes, Luke Bryan, his truck, and most of all…..he loves Jesus. His faith is so important to him and he shares it with anyone who will listen. To see him now, there is no doubt why God chose for Braden to stay. The light of Christ shines so brightly through him. He is hope. He is a walking testament of faith, and he is love in its purest form. What an honor it has been to have a front row seat to his life so far.”
Braden’s story and his positive outlook is an inspiration to many. The bond he and Michele share proves how essential strength, faith, love, and friendship are in battling life’s toughest storms.
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