The Angel in the Shed

My hat will forever be off to the pediatric nurse. I knew from my very first pediatric patient while in nursing school, I did not want to work in that department. With small kids at home and identifying with the patient I knew that my emotions would be stretched “to the hilt” caring for “tiny people.”  However, at times, those small little people did make it to our ICU and here is the true story of such an occasion.

Sunlight framed the tiny frail body of the little girl who lay in the bed of our ICU. The only sound in the room was the sound of the ventilator that allowed her chest to rise and fall and allowed her to stay alive. Her admitting nurse, Melinda, had washed away the dirt and grime that had been embedded in her skin, nails and hair. She had brushed out all the matting from her hair and the curly golden long hair now lay spread across the white pillow case like a halo shining around her head. She was ever so pale except for the bruises scattered all over her body but we had covered those up as best as we could except for the ones on either side of her tiny face.

We were used to teens and adults with only an occasional child when there was an accident of some sort and those were rare. We were all devastated at this turn of events in our unit and I am about to share a story that I hope not one of our colleagues ever has to endure.

For this true story we will call our tiny patient Angel and indeed, as I’ve said, she looked like one. Not when she came but now. When she came to us from the ED, so did her horrific story. It seems that Angel’s mother and boyfriend had a harsh way to deliver discipline and as we listened we heard that Angel, out of her siblings, was the scapegoat for all of the family’s problems. This tiny little creature had endured many beatings over the few four short years she had on this earth and on this occasion she was locked in a dark and damp shed in their back yard. For days the beating must have persisted and from her lab work the doctors drew the conclusion that she was given only salt water to drink. Her little body was riddled with not only bruises but tiny cuts and beneath the skin lay the old fractures that were healed or healing added to the new ones she had now. This beating, however, along with the diet of salt water had taken it’s tole.

Where was the dad in all of this you may ask and where were any family or friends. Well, the dad was incarcerated for a crime we knew nothing about and there was an elderly grandmother and the child’s aunt who was the dad’s sister. She had never really cared for the mother but she did care for her nieces and tried to stay in contact as best she could. She had visited several times and either Angel was playing at a friends, at a sleep over or some other excuse was made for her absence. The aunt had called social services several times and during those years long ago they had to call to make an appointment with the mother and give her notice before they could visit.

They had recorded cooperation from the mother and Angel was present on some occasions and at other times she was not there but at a friends. They were persistent but the house was clean, the other girls were healthy looking and Angel, when she was there, was tiny but looked well kept. All seemed in order and the fears that the aunt had expressed seemed just to be the ravings of a woman who did not care for the mother. Angel, it was recorded, seemed small for her age, shy and not as talkative as the other girls but in no way did she looked abused.

Well, it all finally caught up with them when the aunt went to school and they said that the mother had called her in sick several days ago and they had not seen her. On this occasion she bypassed social services and went straight to the state police and insisted that someone go and check on her niece. Luckily she was friends with one of the officers and having little ones of his own and knowing the aunt not to be daft went with another officer to check on Angel. Per the mother she was not at home. As they were leaving, they noticed the shed behind the house and went to investigate but the shed was locked. The boyfriend said they had lost the key to the lock but the police were insistent and they busted in the door. Just as they made their discovery, they heard a car starting up it’s motor and were able to apprehend the mother and boyfriend leaving alone without the other children.

There lay a tiny lifeless body of a child “crumpled” on the earth floor of the shed. When they rolled her over she was barely breathing. She looked like a toy doll that had seen it’s better days and found it’s home in a trash pile. She was filthy, her lips were dry and cracked and she was covered with bruises and obvious fractures from the positioning of her little arms and legs. With tears in their eyes, the policemen called for an ambulance to come quickly and they held her gently in their arms while the mother and boyfriend tried to say she had been missing in one breath and then blaming each other in the next. The officers were so stricken at what they had found they cuffed them both and put them in the back seat of the cruiser to await the ambulance.

Angel, by the time she got to the hospital and properly tested, had come to the end of the road on this earth. She was declared “brain dead” and a ward of the state until they could get the father to her bedside and hope that he left her go in peace. He came with two guards and sobbed so loudly that we had to shut the other patient’s doors. His sobs were that of any other parent who had lost a child and came from the gut. He blamed himself for not being there to protect her and even the guards eyes held unshed tears. “Let her go,” he said and turned around to slowly shuffle off sobbing the whole way out.

The ventilator was removed and within minutes little Angel moved on. I like to think that she had already moved on and was looking down at the empty body of a little girl and smiling because she was not in pain anymore. No more beatings, no more harsh words, no more pain. Her world was warm and sunny now and she was loved and cared for just like she had always wished. It took a very long time for us to push this memory behind us and I guess for some of us back then…it never went away.

32 thoughts on “The Angel in the Shed

  • February 24, 2018 at 8:16 am
    Permalink

    Such a moving story. I always enjoy reading Linda’s articles. She has a way of making you feel like you are part of her story.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 12:40 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you Beth….always appreciate your comments !

      Reply
      • February 24, 2018 at 2:19 pm
        Permalink

        Linda, so well written! This story brought tears to my eyes, thank you for your unending kindness to your patients!

        Reply
        • February 24, 2018 at 6:38 pm
          Permalink

          The group of nurses I worked with in ICU were like family and a very special group with lots of compassion. For many of us at the time, we had smaller kids at home and it made it all so real……I always loved my patient as did they but this one was ever so special.

          Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 8:48 am
    Permalink

    Such a sad, but moving article. Writing was excellent !

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 12:41 pm
      Permalink

      Yes, it was true & sad. Many of us in ICU will never ever forget that little one……

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 2:15 pm
    Permalink

    Very well written! Sad and true. No, I will never forget.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 6:40 pm
      Permalink

      Vickie is one of the nurses I worked with and she can attest that we all were badly shaken with this case. We will never forget Vic….

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 2:20 pm
    Permalink

    Linda, so well written, it brought tears to my eyes!

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 6:36 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you Lori!!!

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 3:02 pm
    Permalink

    Very well written article. Unfortunately i have read far too many like them. My sister was a pediatriac nurse, and then the head of pediatric’s in Albany. I remember her telling me about going into a room and crying. I understand why.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 6:35 pm
      Permalink

      Yes, I am sure she has many stories to tell about kids that had been abused. Like I said, I was not cut out to be a pediatric nurse because I have carried this story as others I worked with for many years…….none of us could even grasp how a grown man could do this to such a precious little one. This story is a perfect example of the ugliness that dwells in some people’s hearts!!!

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 4:21 pm
    Permalink

    Tears while I read this….Love and prayers for all those who care for these children in these conditions. The public rarely realize what nurses and those in the medical field deal with every day. God bless them every one…And as for Angel, I”d like to think her days are spent above with those she was named for.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 6:31 pm
      Permalink

      From the time she left us I believe her days were filled with the love and joy she so deserved as a child. Many of us will NEVER forget caring for her.

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 6:24 pm
    Permalink

    This is a very sad article that not only points out the horrifying facts of child abuse, but also the sorrow felt by those nurses taking care of these little patients. The heartache nurses must feel while they tenderly clean and watch over these abuse patients. And many times watch them go to Jesus. Well written. It pulls you in.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 6:28 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you Sandy. It is a very sad article but it is one that depicts the horrific deeds that adults can do to children, each other or the elderly and it’s also a fact. Although I know the hospital would have given Counseling if we would have asked……those were the days that nurses just “gutted it through”……She will NEVER be forgotten by us that took any part in her care.

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 6:29 pm
    Permalink

    Beautifully written article about a hard subject matter. Child abuse is something people do not like to read about, but Linda has shared her experience in a personal way that allows the reader to understand that nurses are often placed in roles that are difficult but necessary. Angel’s body needed to be cleaned and loved, but her soul had passed to Jesus. By the nurses respecting her body they honored this little girl. Maybe for the only time in her life. How admirable.

    Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 6:57 pm
    Permalink

    This kind of abuse happens too often. Linda, your article is a beautiful tribute to this poor little girl, and a reminder to teachers, neighbors, social workers, to be vigilant in reporting or investigating suspected abuse.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 6:41 am
      Permalink

      EXCELLENT…..thank you for reminding us all of that Sharon!!!

      Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 5:46 am
    Permalink

    Unfortunately too many stories like this being told in today’s society. Good job Linda.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 6:40 am
      Permalink

      Unfortunately, is correct my friend! This was 30 years ago and was such a shock for us then………

      Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 7:09 am
    Permalink

    Brought all too familiar tears! Well written, Linda! As a former teacher/ support services worker, Angel’s sad situation is much too common. God bless the little children and all those who care for them!

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 12:35 pm
      Permalink

      Yes……I agree Tammy!!! Teachers and social workers must see this so much……I would hate to be a witness to any of it and have my hands tied! What we saw 30 years ago was too much!!!

      Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 9:35 pm
    Permalink

    Linda: I am glad to be able to let you know what an outstanding job you did at writing this article. I was so moved with the true story of this precious child who suffered at the hands of these evil people. I hope you continue to write and show us the real stories from your experience as a nurse. Thank you for sharing this article and being willing to give of your time to write these articles. Blessing to you for being such a kind and compassionate nurse.

    Reply
    • February 27, 2018 at 7:25 am
      Permalink

      Thank you Bunny……I will NEVER be able to express the grief that happened in that ICU from the nurses who cared for her…..

      Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 9:49 pm
    Permalink

    Linda , a strong, touching and educational article on child abuse one of our nation’s must serious public health problems. Thank you for sharing this informative article.

    As a Child Crisis and CASA volunteer I have seen first hand children abused physically, psychologically , sexually and neglected .

    Thank you for sharing your story of an angel .

    Reply
    • February 27, 2018 at 7:21 am
      Permalink

      Thank you Elise and so proud of you working with CASA!!!!!

      Reply
  • February 27, 2018 at 8:16 am
    Permalink

    Well written article, Linda. I could feel your pain and compassion through your words.

    Reply
    • February 28, 2018 at 4:56 am
      Permalink

      Thank you Ann for your comments and for being such a faithful reader!!!

      Reply
  • February 27, 2018 at 3:37 pm
    Permalink

    It’s hard to believe things like this actually happen but I know that they do. Thanks for having the courage to share this story. It made me tear up and I don’t do that.. I hope any sibling, parent, neighbor or relative that has an inkling that something like this might be happening to a child will come forward and do the right thing….

    Reply
  • February 28, 2018 at 4:45 am
    Permalink

    and…….that is what it’s all about Darrell…..getting people to speak out. Unfortunately, for Angel, her aunt tried but was unsuccessful. Child protective services tried…..but they too could only go so far. Hopefully this is a wakeup call to someone out there to do something or be more aware. Thank you for your comment!

    Reply
  • March 16, 2018 at 10:48 am
    Permalink

    Oh my dear lord……How can these things happen to our Littlest Angels……I could barely finish the article for tears….Thanks to Linda Dawson for her writing and the awareness….well written…..

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *