A guardian angel and a forever bond

September 20th, 2017

 

Delana “Dee” Sanchez and John, Robyn and Alysha Jackson remember the day when Robyn’s life was saved.

Alysha Jackson had music pulsing through her headphones and couldn’t hear her phone ringing endlessly.

When Alysha realized her dad, John, had been making continuous phone calls, she called him back. John told his daughter he was at Memorial Hospital Central.

“I’m down here with mom,’’ he said. “I’m trying to get her alive.’’

An hour earlier, Alysha’s mother, Robyn Jackson, had collapsed after buying a few things at a gas station in southeast Colorado Springs. John, who had been sitting behind the wheel of their truck, jumped out and ran to his wife’s side. He called out for help and began CPR.

Out of nowhere it seemed, a woman appeared and said to John: “I’ll take over compressions, and you breathe for her.’’

They did CPR for about 30 minutes before paramedics arrived and rushed Robyn to Memorial. What has transpired since that day more than a decade ago is a testament to fate, convergence and bonds that will never be broken.

Robyn was in bad shape when she arrived at Memorial that night in August, 2007. Her windpipe had been crushed in the fall, and her teeth had pierced her lips, causing profuse bleeding.

Those injuries, while unsettling, paled in comparison to Robyn’s heart problems. She had Prolonged QT Syndrome, a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity. Prolonged QT can cause sudden, uncontrollable, dangerous arrhythmias in response to exercise or stress. Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.

Delana “Dee” Sanchez and Robyn and John Jackson.

A doctor told the family that the odds were slim – 3 percent – that Robyn would survive and he told John, Alysha and her sister, Khaeli, who had gathered in the Emergency Department, to say their goodbyes. “That is probably the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do,’’ Alysha said.

Doctors placed Robyn in a coma to let her body rest until doctors implanted a cardiac defibrillator to correct the rhythm of her heart when it went awry. She spent several days in the ICU. In the days that followed, her family began looking for the woman who the Jackson Family now calls “Mom’s Guardian Angel.’’

“One day, Alysha and my mom, Liz, took a walk around Boulder Park. When they returned to the hospital, near the west entrance, something or someone ‘touched’’ my mom on the shoulder and said, ‘You need to speak to this woman.’

During their short conversation, Liz learned that the woman she was talking to was Delana Sanchez, the woman who had helped John on the sidewalk outside of the gas station.

Delana, who goes by Dee, then asked if the woman whom she had helped was still alive.

“Yes!,’’ they said, and the two led Dee to the ICU where Robyn was still recuperating.

Alysha learned that Delana, who goes by Dee, was an employee at Memorial. She still works at the hospital, preparing patients for outpatient surgery. What’s odd is that Alysha and Robyn now work at the hospital, too. Almost every day, their paths cross in the hospital hallways. Robyn works in the Aspen Leaf Coffee Shop, the hospital’s gourmet coffee shop. Alysha is a certified nurse assistant who is studying to become a registered nurse.

“If it wasn’t for the staff here at Memorial, my mom wouldn’t be here today,’’ Alysha said. “There are no words or gifts to show our appreciation to the staff members here. That’s why my mom and I come to work every day because that’s the only way we know how  to give back is to show the same kind of compassion that the staff showed to us on that terrible day.

“My mom is living a natural, normal life. She can’t go by a magnet, but she’s the Energizer bunny. She just keep going and going,’’ Alysha said.

Robyn said that her role in the coffee shop is about far more than delivering a delicious latte or chai tea. It’s about people.

“You don’t know what a cup of coffee can do for that person in that moment,’’ Robyn said.

Dee, who has worked at Memorial for 21 years, said that when she sees Robyn at work in the coffee shop and Alysha working and pursuing her education, it reminds her that what she does is important.

“I never dreamed that I would be able to see her again, and now I see her often,’’ Dee said. “Whenever I see her, to me, it just represents life. Nothing in a life happens by chance – everything has its place and its time. For me to see her every day and her daughter, that represents life.’’

Dee said it has been a blessing to get to know Robyn and Alysha.

“We’ve developed a bond,’’ Dee said.

In the hospital, Dee and Robyn often tell people what happened outside the gas station years ago, and how that experience is so much a part of their lives today.

“Never stop telling your story because that’s your energy – that’s your life, and that’s what makes us who we are,’’ Dee said.

 

About the author

Erin Emery is a writer for UCHealth and is based in Colorado Springs.