Adena ‘Guardian Angel’ Helps Save Man’s Life

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Not everybody gets the opportunity within their lifetime to meet and thank their guardian angel.

Chillicothe resident Steven Daukas, whose angel appropriately provided him with his own Christmas miracle this past holiday season, had the opportunity Wednesday morning to do just that. In a brief ceremony in Adena Regional Medical Center’s emergency department, he and his wife looked on and tried to hold back their emotions as ER nurse Kristin Byler was presented the prestigious first quarter 2023 Daisy Award for nursing.

“My heart was failing me and Kristin stayed with me, telling me to hang on and stay with her,” Steven said. “I am convinced that without her being in the room and taking fast and immediate actions, I would not be alive today. God works many wonders, and I believe Kristin was my guardian angel that day.”

Steven’s journey to meet his guardian angel began early on Christmas day when he experienced intermittent periods of disorientation, nausea, dizziness, and dry sweats. By late afternoon, he and his wife decided enough was enough and made their way to the emergency department on what ended up being a very busy night.

Originally believing that dehydration may be contributing to his symptoms, he was put on fluids while Dr. Kolten Stemen ordered a CT scan, EKG, chest x-ray, and a full blood panel.

It was while those tests were being prepared that Kristin’s vigilance came into play.

“I was sitting in the chair and started really not feeling well,” Steven said. “It wasn’t that bad, but it felt really awkward. Kristin came in and took the pulse on my right hand and then my left hand and then walked over to the phone, called the doctor and told him I looked distressed and he should come over -- and she stressed, ‘right now.’

“When he got there, my pulse was down to between 18 and 21. He gave me a couple shots and they moved me to another room and ordered a crash cart. All I remember hearing was Kristin saying, ‘Stay with us, stay with us’ over and over again. It was getting dark for me and my eyes wanted to close, then I started to come back and it was over, my pulse came back up.”

The next day, he was told he had a heart block and a Pacemaker was implanted shortly thereafter.

Following the Daisy Award ceremony, Dr. Stemen praised Kristin’s vigilance.

“Without her doing what she did, I don’t think he would be here right now,” he said. “I remember it was a very busy night and there were several pretty sick patients and she told me he wasn’t looking very good and that I should come quickly as he was at a pod all the way across the ER. Without her being vigilant like that, the outcome may not have been as positive.”

Kristin, who said she was surprised to be presented with the award and that it made her whole week, noted the approach she took that night was the same that she has brought to work every day in her roughly 10 months with Adena.

“I just try to be very vigilant with every single patient,” she said. “Steven came in with nausea and vomiting and I just wanted to make sure I had all my ducks in a row and put him on a cardiac monitor. I treat every patient like around the next corner is going to be an emergency and I’m going to be prepared.”

She doesn’t hesitate even for a second when asked how long she had wanted to go into nursing.

“I always knew I wanted to go into medicine,” she said. “I’ve been in health care for almost seven years now and my mom is a nurse, so I always knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

The Daisy Award is recognized internationally as a mark of extraordinary nursing care and has been adopted by health systems around the globe as a way of honoring their caregivers. For her selection, Kristin received a special pin for her employee badge, a hand-carved Healer’s Touch sculpture signed by the artist in Zimbabwe, a bouquet of daisies and cinnamon rolls to share with her colleagues. A recognition banner will also be hung in her unit throughout the quarter until the next Daisy Award recipient is selected.

In addition to all that, she can carry with her the knowledge that she was someone’s guardian angel on Christmas day and that Steven will have the opportunity to celebrate many more holidays with his family as the result of her efforts.

“If she hadn’t stayed, if she wasn’t watching me and wasn’t as observant, I would have probably died,” Steven reiterated. “I know if I hadn’t come to the Emergency Room that night and stayed at home instead, I would have died. She was the angel in my room.”