As some of you may have been informed, on June 23 Sandra Immink was in a car accident that has altered her life. Since that day she has been at Spectrum hospital where she stayed in ICU and was later moved to Mary Free bed. Here, she is healing and resting and undergoing daily routines of therapy.
When I asked her what she wanted to talk about to update everyone her first response was to love and thank everyone who has been at her side through this challenging and painful process.
“People that have cared for me, that means something to me. That’s what’s important to me right now.” Sandy said.
As she did this she pointed to over 300 hundred cards that have been hung up on the wall -she is even known as “the card lady” – for all to see. But, they are especially for her. She finds courage, strength, love, and hope in these cards.
She spoke of the kindness of others sending the cards, flowers, visiting etc. However, she also emphasized her appreciation for everyone who took care of her while in the hospital as well as here at Mary Free bed.
“There has been nothing but caring people every time they came in. Everyone reassured that I’d be okay and I’d make it through this,” Sandy said.
She shared some stories of people who really impacted her those first couple days in the ICU as well as after. One woman left an unforgettable feeling of gratitude and love from Sandy.
Amber, a nurse on duty while Sandy stayed in ICU, took her job to the next level when Sandy’s stress and anxiety were on the rise. She explained that Amber saw she couldn’t be left alone and chose to stay with her for hours to comfort and embrace Sandy through one of many challenging moments she would face.
“For two hours she sat by my bed and rubbed my arm, and we sang songs and quoted scripture together,” Sandy explained.
Sandy showed her thankfulness for employees that walked through each of the doors of her temporary homes for these last six weeks. She, Irv and Chelsea spoke of Sam; a “big, big man” according to Irv. But, a strong, yet gentle one in Sandy’s eyes.
She spoke of embarrassing, uncomfortable times and how she learned to overlook those so easily due to the kindness, acceptance and genuine love from all of the people assisting her along the way.
She spoke of everyone through laughter and tears and recognized many people who have stuck with her and have made a lasting impact. Sandy shared that she did not expect to see so much care, compassion, and caress from so many people and is truly grateful for it.
As I got to see her in many times of pain and hardship I always saw a fighter, and I wasn’t the only one. As I sat to write this with Sandy and her family, a doctor she was desperate to see for quite some time arrived. He had done the surgeries on her fingers and hands which were left broken and bruised after the accident.
She -jokingly, as usual- had asked him if he had thought about just giving her something and being done with her when he first saw her. (She had both legs badly broken, one that has since been amputated. Both forearms broke, a shattered vertebrae, and underlying problems on top of each of those. The list seemed endless.
He caught my attention when I saw the look of confusion on his face.
“No no no,” He said shaking his head. “I would never have thought that. You had too much fight in you and too much love around you.”
His words couldn’t be closer to the truth. This is what Sandy really is, a fighter. One surrounded by not only the love of family members, friends and employees, but by the love of God. Something I believe she would agree, she wouldn’t have made it this far without.
Sandy’s story is one I will never forget. She makes me laugh each time I visit and her attitude is one I told her I am sure I could not keep up if I were in her situation. She encouraged me and reassured me then, even when she was the one in pain.
She is an inspiration to us all and the world would not be the same without her. I am beyond blessed to know her and to learn from her. Thank you, Sandy.
I asked her for a specific prayer request as she is on track to go home in three weeks if all goes well!! And she said this: “That I am able to learn how to pivot on my leg and how to shimmy on my board.” (this made us all laugh.)
She receives a green shirt for all the nurses and therapists to sign when she “graduates” and gets to go home. Let’s pray that green shirt hangs on her door soon, but also when she is ready and prepared for the adjustments ahead. I can only imagine what an emotional, memorable day that will be.
Also, Let’s see if we can’t make some kind of record for how many cards someone has received at Mary Free bed… here’s her address, feel free to send some love and encouragement her way as she fights on!
Mary Free Bed
Sandra Immink room #3124
235 wealthy Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503