"Miss Linda" is back at work after accident
A Gardnerville woman who survived a serious car accident in May is well on her way to recovery and credits the power of prayer.
Linda Naucke, 52, suffered a crushed right hip, leg and ankle. She also had broken ribs and had to have surgery to replace shattered bones on her right side. Naucke said X-rays show she is full of metal used to screw bones back together, but amazingly, she can walk and is back on the job at Sunshine and Rainbows day care center.
“Miss Linda,” as she has been known to students for 20 years, said her doctor is astonished every time she visits him.
“They told me it would be five months until I walked, if I would even walk again,” she said. “I see my orthopedic surgeon every two months, and he said at this time I should still be using a cane, but I just had to push myself.”
Because at the time of the accident, the Nauckes didn’t have health insurance, her doctor told her about exercises she could do at home without having to spend money on a physical therapist.
“I just challenged myself everyday,” she said.
She set small goals for herself, first, getting out of bed by herself, then walking down the hall, getting in and out of the shower and getting into her husband’s pickup truck.
“I took myself off of a walker sometime in late July and decided to try to walk without it and I walked. It was very short distances, but each day I did more and more.”
However, she didn’t have to go through the ordeal alone. One of her daughters stayed with her for three weeks. Her husband, Tom, knowing her love of flowers and realizing that she probably wouldn’t be doing a lot of gardening this summer, planted roses outside her bedroom window the day she came home from the hospital.
He also put a small bed on the deck off her bedroom so she could be outside. Linda said although she and Tom have been married for 28 years, this accident has brought them closer than ever.
Although she still uses the wheelchair the Douglas County Senior Center donated to her for long trips, she has returned to work.
“At the end of June, or the first of July, I got incredibly bored and I called and spoke to Nina (Grobben), and she said anytime I wanted to, I could come back. So I came back for very short periods. I work a minimum of hours. I teach from 9 to 11 and from 11 to 11:30, I lay down to get off my leg. But, I’m doing it less and less,” she said. “The kids cover me up and wait on me. I still have bad days, and the kids are right there to help me. They’re amazing.”
Naucke gets to work thanks to co-worker Candy Scott and her three children, Forrest, 9, Kody, 8, and Hunter, 5, who help her get into the car and carry her things every day.
n A miracle. Although she said her recovery has been amazing, Naucke said she gives a lot of credit to the many people in the Carson Valley who prayed for her.
Because of her financial situation, she applied for Barton Memorial Hospital’s charity fund and the hospital wrote off her $32,000 hospital bill.
“I know it was because of prayer. I had people I didn’t even know come up and say, ‘My whole church is praying for you,'” she said.
“People said if anyone deserved it, it’s me, but I don’t; It’s just my life – I teach preschool. One of the hardest lessons for my husband and I to learn was to receive. It was very hard. I feel like I need to say more than thank you,” Naucke said. “I want the community to know what prayer has done and what their help has done.”
Sunshine and Rainbows staff organized a bake sale and yard sale and Don Bently donated the parking lot of the the Treehouse Nursery for the event, which raised $11,000 for the Nauckes.
Her surgeon, Dr. Randy Watson at Barton, also helped out by reducing his bill. She will use the $11,000 to pay for the rest of it.
Naucke had a long list of people to thank, including Sunshine and Rainbows, the nurses and therapists at Barton, Dr. Watson, Andy Kaufer of Lake Valley Fire Department and the other paramedics, tow truck drivers, ambulance drivers and passers-by who helped her at the accident scene.
She has spoken with Kaufer since the accident and he told her “people in my situation do not live, so he knew angels were with me.”
She also wants to thank Regina and Alan Erb, who go to church with the Nauckes at High Sierra Fellowship, who gave her inspiration, she said.
After all she has been through, Naucke looks back on her experience with humor, insight and hope for the future.
“I absolutely thought I was going wake up in Heaven. And when I didn’t, I was honestly a little disappointed. I wondered what I was still doing here. But, I’m willing to wait,” she said.