Doctor appointments aren’t usually a fun experience for 17-year-old Savannah Miller who was born with Down syndrome. Usually, trips to the hospital are accompanied with a fair share of reluctance and anxiety. During a recent trip to Seattle Children’s, however, that all changed thanks to Lindsey Thomsen, a pediatric nurse practitioner in the pre-anesthesia clinic at Seattle Children’s, who went above and beyond her usual duties. Thomsen was inspired by one of Savannah’s favorite television shows to turn a trip to the doctor into an unforgettable experience for Savannah and her family.
Savannah has been a patient at Seattle Children’s since she was a baby, undergoing her first open heart surgery at only 3 months old. Hospital stays and check-ups have been a large part of Savannah’s life, which understandably can cause some unease. That was the case when Thomsen first met Savannah a few weeks ago. They were meeting to talk about an upcoming procedure.
“It was a challenge just to get her in the door that day,” said Jill Miller, Savannah’s mother.
Savannah was visibly upset and refused to have her vitals taken. Getting through the appointment was a struggle, but eventually Savannah warmed up to Thomsen.
“Will you be there?” Savannah asked Thomsen, referring to the day of the procedure.
“I’m usually not,” responded Thomsen.
“Please?” Savannah countered.
Wanting to do everything in her power to support Savannah, Thomsen conceded.
“I’ll see what I can do,” she said.
It was the next question that really surprised Thomsen.
“Will Meredith be there?” Savannah asked. “You know, Dr. Grey.”
“Grey’s Anatomy” is one of Savannah’s favorite shows. She knows all the characters, including Meredith Grey, the fictional lead of the medical drama played by Ellen Pompeo. It was that question that gave Thomsen an idea. Thomsen, who is also a big fan of the show, was determined to make Savannah’s dream come true.
Meeting Dr. Grey
Four days later, Savannah arrived back at Seattle Children’s for her procedure. Instead of Thomsen greeting Savannah and her family in the pre-op room, Dr. Grey walked through the door.
“We were blown away,” said Miller. “Savannah’s face lit up.”
Thomsen, dressed in a white coat and adorning a badge with a photo of Meredith Grey that read ‘Dr. Grey,’ had transformed herself into Savannah’s favorite fictional doctor.
Savannah greeted Thomsen with a big hug.
“She didn’t call her Lindsey the entire appointment,” said Miller. “It was amazing and so above and beyond. It was exactly what Savannah needed. She sailed through the day.”
Thomsen’s transformation was exactly what the doctor ordered. The procedure went well and hours later the only thing Savannah could talk about was how cool it was to meet Dr. Grey.
“It will be something Savannah will remember for the rest of her life,” said Miller. “The day she got to hang out with Dr. Grey.”
According to Thomsen, that day meant a lot to her as well.
“I think it did more for me than it did for Savannah,” said Thomsen. “This is why we do what we do. Savannah was so excited. She completely forgot about what she was doing at the hospital that day.”
The big smile on Savannah’s face said it all.
“These visits are usually so traumatic for Savannah,” said Miller. “That day was such a relief and a breath of fresh air. It was not only comforting for Savannah, but for me as well. Seattle Children’s nursing staff and doctors really do make you feel like part of the family.”
Miller laughed jovially thinking about the experience and Thomsen’s incredible transformation.
“It looks like Dr. Grey will have to be at every appointment now,” she joked.
Until then, Thomsen has hung up her fictional white coat and is back to playing a real-life role in the hospital: nurse practicioner and hero.