Skip to comments.A Miracle Inside the Aurora Shooting: One Victimís Story
Posted on 07/23/2012 5:05:08 PM PDT by Altariel
At Columbine, I have seen this before. But not up close. As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain with several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Littleton Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22 year old woman from my church, Petra Anderson (pronounced Pay-tra). Petra went to the movies with two young friends who are biking across America. You and I have been inundated with news about what happened next. A joyful movie turned into bloody, unbelievable chaos. Petra was hit four times with a shot-gun blast, three shots into her arm and one bullet which entered her brain. This a bit of Petras miracle story.
With awesome people from our caring and pastoral team, I spent all day Friday in the ICU with Petra and her family. Her injuries were severe, and her condition was critical. A bullet had entered Petras face through her nose, and then traveled up through her brain until stopping at the back of her skull. The doctors prior to surgery were concerned, because so much of the brain had been traversed by the bullet. Many areas of brain function were involved. They were hoping to keep her alive long enough to get her into surgery. The prognosis was uncertainif she lived, Petra might struggle with speech, movement, and thinking due to considerable brain damage. With Kim, Petras mother (who is in the final stages of terminal cancer), we simply cried, hugged, and prayed.
It is pressed into my memory now. Motion and emotion
Other families come and go into the ICU waiting room. Some sit with us, and we talk. Others are visited by doctors with Family Advocates in tow. The families listen, sob, and then are moved like stunned cattle to a more private space to grieve. We pray. Petra is finally taken into surgery, using two different surgical teams. One team of neurosurgeons will open up the back of her skull to remove the bullet and clean up brain damage as best they can. Another ENT-specialty surgical team will then work through Petras nose by scope to follow the bullets path up into her brain. Their hope is to remove bone fragments, clean up damaged brain tissue, and reseal her brain to reduce infection.
If you have lived any of your days in a hospital waiting room, you know how long the enduring process is. It has a woeful pattern to it. Sit. Walk. Grab a drink. Sit. Walk. Answer a phone call. Sit. Walk. Hug someone. Sit. Talk to the FBI. Sit. Pick at the food. Sit. Walk. Go down the hall, but not too far because youre afraid to miss something. Back. Hug. Pray. Sit. Sit. A picture of a five year old waiting for next Christmas from January 1st comes to my mind. FOREVER. Only this feels worse: a heavy forever, with no promise of presents, Santa, or good news at the end.
Petra Anderson and her world class violin.
After the waiting drags for over five hours, tired doctors and nurses spill back into the room, one or two at a time. I look for Family Advocates but can find none. I exhale. The doctors update us: It went well, and shes recovering now. We found very little damage to the brain, and got the bullet out cleanly. It went better than we hoped for. Each brings a warriors smile, and a bit of informationinformation that we turn into hope as we regurgitate it over the next hours. Still, the medical team remains professional and reserved, Something might still go wrong. We just need to wait and see if she makes it for the next 48 hours.
Tears and thank yous abound. We are so thankful for these men and women. We hug. Everyone hugs. Then, round two. Sit. Wait. Pray. Fully dressed people cuddle into small snails and try to sleep on the floor. Some are shuttled to a room donated by the Holiday Inn across the street. Thank you, Lord, for every little thing. We sit. We pray. Well understand better tomorrow.
Petra is moved back to ICU. She looks, surprisingly, wonderful. With a small hole in her nose, and her arm wrapped, she almost looks uninjured. She is medicated and sleeping when I come to visit her on Saturday. I sit, talk, and pray quietly with Kim amid the darkened room, lit by glowing medical screens and power switches. Nurses, like quiet soldiers posted on guard, come in, march attentively through the machines, and go out. These men and women really care. Finally, one of the surgeons comes in to check on Petra. He has had some sleep, and looks more like a movie star this time. As Petra sleeps, he retells the story of the surgery, and we ask questions. The doctor reads the perfect script, as if he is on Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fills us in on the miracle. Honestly, he doesnt call it that, he just uses words like happily and wonderfully and in a very fortunate way and luckily and we were really surprised by that. Kim and I know a miracle when we see it.
It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petras brain without hitting any significant brain areas. The doctor explains that Petras brain has had from birth a small defect in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.
But in Petras case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petras nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petras brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the channel is missed. The brain is destroyed. Evil wins a round.
As he shares, the doctor seems taken aback. It is an odd thing to have a surgeon show a bit of wonder. Professionally, these guys own the universe, it seems, and take everything in stride. He is obviously gifted as a surgeon, and is kind in his manner. It couldnt have gone better. If it were my daughter, he says quietly, glancing around to see if any of his colleagues might be watching him, Id be ecstatic. Id be dancing a jig. He smiles. I cant keep my smile back, or the tears of joy. In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. Its just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.
While were talking, Petra awakes. She opens her eyes, and sits up, Mom. Movie-star doctor spins to grab her, to protect her from falling. The nurse assures him shes been doing this for a while. He talks to her, and she talks back. He asks questions, and Petra has the right answers. Where do you hurt, Petra? All over. Amazed, but professional, he smiles and leaves the set shaking his head. I am so thankful for this man.
Petra is groggy and beat up, but she is herself. Honestly, I look worse before my morning coffee. Im thirsty, she proclaims.
You want an ice cube, honey? Kim replies.
Please. Wow. She lays down, back to sleep, a living miracle who doesnt even know it yet. Good flowering out of the refuse pile of a truly dark night. Thank you, Jesus, I whisper.
Kim and her daughter.
Petra, you are amazing. Kim, you, too, are amazing. I am so proud of you both. But God, you are in a league of your own. (Duh.)
There is much ahead. More surgerys. Facial reconstruction, perhaps. And for Kim, chemo therapy to stretch every moment out of life. But life remains.The ending is yet to be written for this family.
One final note: I am told Petra will take her first steps today. Time for the miracle to go for a walk.
Kim and Petra need our help. For more on the Andersons, or to help with their medical costs, please visit here. This is a great site.
More information about supporting Petra Anderson and other shooting victims is also available at Hope Rises:
Thank you for sharing this.
Praising the Great Physician for this great praise report.
You may know some people who would like to read this.
Thanks for this story. It’s wonderful.
Beautiful. God can bring beauty out of the most horrific events.
God has a purpose for her.
Anyone who cannot believe in God after this story is not going to be easy to reach with the gospel. Amazing God!
Pinging my Colorado ping list and please know prayers go out to everyone in Colorado and beyond who have family and loved ones who were lost or injured. May God's grace comfort you all.
Thanks for the ping !
LOTS, going on FB, email, everywhere. How many social sites can we join? :) Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!
God is AWESOME.
The shooting actually was very close to myself even down here in Colorado Springs. At the small company I work at that employees 32 people, 2 of my fellow employees had either friends or family at the theater. They were in the adjacent theater. None were injured but there was one bullet that passed through the wall and missed one of them by about 2 feet.
Personally it has affected my family directly. My brother is a Sergeant in the Aurora Police department. He had just finished his normal 4pm to midnight shift when he was called back to duty. He was directed to the apartment complex where the suspect resided. He ended up second in charge there and helped direct the evacuation and crowd control. He worked there until about 9 in the morning and had to be sent home as he did not to leave.
It is amazing how one random act of violence can effect people that were not involved directly.
I have had all of the victims in my prayers and will continue to do so.
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