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Kenneth Jonah’s journal of Email messages
documenting his wife, Wendy Jonah’s successful battle
against ARDS

 

 

August 5, 1998

 

This is not an easy e-mail for me to send to all of Wendy's friends but I unfortunately have to inform you that she is critically ill and has been in intensive care since last Monday. She apparently had a bad reaction to some medication she was taking and by the time I rushed her to the emergency her blood pressure had fallen to 83/33. They put five intravenous tubes in her and stuck her like a pincushion and she was doing pretty well on Tuesday night. Her blood pressure was up and her heart (after numerous tests) was in great shape. Sometime during the night her temperature went up to 103 and then she had a great deal of difficulty breathing. The doctor called me at 2:30 p.d.t. and told me that they have to put her on a respirator and they fear that she is suffering from Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Of the 150,000 cases of ARDS that happen each year in the United States, about 50% are fatal!

We are going to need your prayers and hope that Wendy recovers from this. She is too dear to all of us and it is much too soon for her to leave us. She has brought so much happiness into everybody’s lives and there is too much happiness in her future with her son's marriages not to be able to share that with them.

I am asking for your good thoughts and prayers and hope that Wendy will return to the person we know and love.

 

August 7, 1998

As you can imagine it has been a very stressful couple of days learning that Wendy has ARDS and that the future looked extremely dim. We were told that there was an extremely high rate of fatalities and that the process, if she survives, could take upwards to 3-6 months! You are NOT going to find this hard to believe at all. Since Wednesday, Wendy has shown a tremendous amount of improvement.... so much so that the doctors are talking about taking her completely off the ventilator by Monday!!!! They started her at 99% oxygen on Wednesday and told us that they would slowly reduce that number until they could reach their goal of 24%. On Thursday night she was already to 72%, and tonight when I left she was at 42%! The doctors can't believe the fight in her...but we all know better!!! She isn't out of the woods yet, but with her blood pressure up from 83/33 to 127/70...and the fact that they have already started to ween her off a lot of the I.V. medicine they were giving her.... even the doctors have changed from saying "if" she survives to "when we move her upstairs......!" They have stopped giving her medicine to paralyze her and are trying to let her wake up and start to function on her own. There still are a few complications that we have to address, but the doctors are doing their best to deal with them.

 

August 8, 1998

We had a real encouraging day today. She had a CAT scan, which showed nothing of any concern. They had some reservations that the move might stress her body, but when I arrived at the hospital in the morning all her vital signs were excellent. They have determined that she is suffering from a virus, which was one of the contributing factors to her condition. They feel that they can have it under control without any problem. She still suffers from ARDS but now they feel that she is slowly recovering from that. She is still on the ventilator machine, however, they continually drop the amount of aid the machine is giving her and we were told tonight that she has reached a level where they could actually take her off the machine. They don't want to do that yet and want to continue to let the machine aid her recovery for a couple more days. They are slowly dropping the levels on all the drugs they are giving her and her blood pressure (with decreased assistance from the drug) has stayed at 127/70. Her blood oxygen is staying around 95% (they don't want it to go below 90%) and her temperature is around 98.7. They have taken her off a paralytic drug and she is starting to breathe on her own. They continue to talk in positive terms.... so much so that the target date is now for next Wednesday to hopefully move her out of intensive care into a less monitored environment. As I said in my last e-mail...I don't think any of us are surprised at the fight Wendy has in her and that certainly contributes to her being able to overcome this.

 

August 10, 1998

And still Wendy continues to defy the medical community! Are any of us surprised at this???

The weekend was pretty quiet with just letting her rest and repair her body. We knew that when the doctor came in this a.m. (Monday) that a lot was going to happen and it certainly did. She actually opened her eyes for the first time since Wednesday. They have taken her off several supportive medications; especially the one to help her blood pressure stay up and without it it has maintained about 128/70. Her kidneys are fine (boy are they fine!), her heart is excellent; her color is excellent; and her chest x-ray was better than yesterday. They have taken her off all paralytic medicine; they have taken her off of all sedatives; however tonight she did have a little problem breathing and they had to give her some Valium and turn the ventilator up a little bit. This was not unexpected as they try to see how far they can go before she reacts a little on the negative side. She is moving around quite a bit and looks quite anxious to get this over with.

 

August 12, 1998

It appears to us that Wendy has hit a plateau when in fact she is showing more progress everyday. They have given her a CAT Scan, plus many, many, many other tests and they have all come up negative. They are still confused as to the cause of the problem and are starting to narrow it down. We feel that she might have picked up a strange virus in either Asia or Europe. We should start seeing more positive progress in the next couple of days as the ventilator specialist and ICU doctors that we have the most confidence in are working. Her vital organs are doing their job and her vital signs are all strong. The problem we are having now is that she is slowly starting to wake up and is frightened by the tube stuck down her throat; the fact that her hands are tied down to prevent her from pulling the tube out; and the cream in her eyes to keep them moist (when she opens her eyes she can't see and that scares her) She opened her eyes a couple of times last night and then gets extremely aggravated; so much so that they have to give her morphine to calm down. She doesn't remember the tube being stuck in her throat and she gets scared with trying to figure out why it's there. She only has two IVs in her now; one for food and another for antibiotics. Hopefully she will start waking up so that they can remove the ventilator and start her long road to recovery. Wendy will have to go for physical therapy to learn how to walk all over again and this is going to be a looooooooonnnnnng process.

 

August 13, 1998

Well, we were warned early on that there would be up days and down days and this is one of the down days.

Wendy did not have a good night last night as she was quite restless and she had to be sedated to calm her down.

The doctors still have no idea what is the main cause of her condition as they have run test after test with no results. All the blood cultures (they draw blood every 4 hours) come up negative. At this point they want to just keep her heavily sedated so that she can get some rest and continue to repair her body. Her vital signs are all strong; however, she still needs to be on a life support system. They are planning another test on Saturday hoping to finally identify what is the problem.

 

August 16, 1998

It appears that we continue to be in a down mode. The first two days were so encouraging and maybe we got a little over-confident.  Wendy is still on life support; however all her vital signs remain strong. Her kidneys are excellent as well as her heart. She appears to have taken a liking to one of the nurses as she responds to her everytime she is in the room...moving her head in the nurse's direction; opening her eyes; and nodding her head to her questions. I have tried juggling, fire-eating, standing on my head, and I get no response whatsoever.  She had two tests this weekend; one to check her gall bladder...which was negative; and another in which they drew blood from her.... injected it with radiation...and reinserted it back into her system. They then track the blood to watch if it would go towards any infection.... negative!!  At this point they have absolutely no idea what is causing the problem. She had a restful night on Saturday night and was fine until 3:30 in the afternoon when her temperature all of a sudden "spiked" to 102 degrees and she became very agitated and all her numbers (heart rate, blood pressure, etc) shot way up. They had to increase the pressure on the breathing machine and heavily sedate her.  Hopefully this week they will have a better idea of what is causing this problem. She continues to have great difficulty breathing and we pray that it doesn't cause problems with any other organs.

We ask that you pray even more for her this week to see if we can get her to turn the corner.

I miss her greatly and it is very difficult not having her with me. Again, thank all of you for your kind support and I know that we can overcome this together.

 

August 19, 1998

Unfortunately Wendy had a terrible day today. Her temperature climbed to 105 degrees and she had a rash all over her body, which caused her great stress, and much concern to the doctors. The doctors realized that she was having another allergic reaction to one of the many medications that they were giving her and decided to cease all the antibiotics. They pulled the plug on all of them, however, only have one new antibiotic being fed to her. Wendy's mother and I assisted the doctors in filling bags full of ice and iced her down in hopes of lowering her temperature. Because her temperature rose...it puts a tremendous strain on her breathing and with the ventilator still attached; this was very scary.  Luckily the ice did the trick and by 4:00 we got her temperature down to 99 degrees. By 8:00 it appeared that she was resting comfortably and showed no adverse reaction to the new antibiotic. She was more awake, opening her eyes and appearing to understand that we were there. I just talked with the nurse and she said that the good news is that Wendy's temperature is still down however she is very agitated and moving around alot putting stress on her breathing. For all of us who know and love Wendy....why can't they understand who they're fooling with? Do they really think they can keep her still???? Hopefully discontinuing the antibiotics will be the trick and she will finally turn the corner.

 

August 23, 1998  Day 21 & Wendy is still in ICU and on life support

Wendy continued to try and breathe against the ventilator so the doctor's had to make the difficult decision to put her back on the paralytic drug to completely paralyze her so that the machine could do it's job. They did that early Saturday and she seemed fine Saturday, Saturday night until Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. when all of a sudden her blood pressure went up and other numbers went down and they scrambled to figure out what was happening. They made a couple of adjustments on the machine and some of the medicine and that seemed to do the trick as she had a very quiet day with all her vital signs staying strong; her kidneys doing their usual filling of the bag; and she actually was given food for the first time (thru an I.V.) which she tolerated very well. The doctor came in this afternoon and had a smile on her face and if Dr. Rogers smiles........we all smile! She was very pleased with the situation at this point. They did an ultrasound to check to see if Wendy had any clots in her legs and thankfully that was negative.

So at this point we try and be patient and hope that this will allow her to repair her lungs.

I continue to ask all of you to keep Wendy in your prayers to get well soon and please pray for me to be able to cope with this very difficult situation. It is so hard to see her laying in bed with the tube down her throat; the IVs in both arms and her neck; and being paralyzed. I miss her smile (which can light up a room) I miss her love...but most of all I just miss her a lot. Your continued support gives us both strength to deal with this awful situation.

 

August 23, 1998  Day 23 …. Still in intensive care and still on life support

 I am so pleased to send you all the following e-mail. Today I walked into Wendy's room and her ventilator reading was at 45%! I just stood there and started to cry trying to comprehend that she has done this on her own and wants so badly to get back to all of us. Your prayers are doing the trick and we are so blessed that God has decided to let Wendy slowly recover in a positive direction. She started at 99% and the target is about 30-35. She has had three positive days with her x-rays showing no negative results. Her blood gasses (which are most critical) have been also in a positive direction. Her vital signs continue to be strong and her organs are continuing to also stay strong. If we can continue to have a couple of more days like this then they feel confident to take her off the paralytic and start to ween her off the ventilator. I want to relay a true story to all of you; and knowing Wendy the way you do you won't find this hard to believe. Last week the doctor told me that they had some concerns about her pancreases. They felt that it was either infected or inflamed. After the doctor told me that I went into Wendy's room and leaned down and whispered into her ear that there appears to be some problem with her pancreases and asked her to take care of it. On Saturday I asked the doctor what the status was of her pancreases and she told me that for some unknown reason it appeared to have repaired. I also asked the doctor what the status of their concern with some air around Wendy's heart. She told me that that also seemed to have gone away. After the doctor told me that Wendy had air around her heart I again went into her room and leaned down and whispered into her ear that the doctor had said that there was air around her heart and that it needed to be taken care of!! Yesterday the nurse said she was concerned that Wendy's blood pressure was too low and that they would have to give her some drugs to take care of it. Before I left for lunch I just mentioned it to Wendy and by the time I came back from lunch it was up and they didn't have to give her the drugs!! I continue to whisper to Wendy how much everybody is praying for her and how much love all of you have for her. Do you think that is why she has had such a great couple of days?!?! I surely think so.

I can't express enough how much Wendy & I continue to appreciate all your prayers, love, and support. She certainly isn't out of danger yet and we need to continue to pray that nothing else goes wrong and she will slowly heal her lungs so that they can take her off the machine. It will be a long, long road to full recovery but I don't care just as long as she can come off the machine; open her eyes; and give me that smile that can light up a room. That will be the happiest day for all of us.

 

August  30, 1998   Day 27 …. Still in ICU and on life support

I am really happy to let you know that Wendy continues to show improvement. She had several "good" days at the beginning of the week and several "excellent" days and nights towards the end of the week. They have taken her off the paralytic and feel that since her breathing with the ventilator seems to be acceptable, hopefully will start to ween her off the machine. They are planning to give her a tracheotomy on Tuesday in order to remove the tube that is currently down her throat through her mouth and also remove the tubes up her nose. The "trach" should make it more comfortable for her and hopefully eliminate the concern of having her attempt to grab at the tube in her throat when she wakes up. She still is heavily sedated, but we are told that she can hear everything we say and she can feel us touching her. I continually talk to her and rub her arm telling her about all of you and your kind e-mails and prayers. I know that this is helping her continue her fight to get well. I think the fact that I told her at the beginning of the week that I was taking care of her garden was enough for her to want to get out of there as soon as possible.

She still is not off the critical list but the direction is certainly positive.

 

September 2, 1998    Day 30, still in intensive care and still on life support!

To quote the doctor......"We are having a GREAT day!!!!"

They have lowered the ventilator to 40. The lowest it has ever been has been 45. They started the day lowering it from 50 to 45 and then to 40 by 12:00. They also made other adjustments, which are MAJOR adjustments to the machine, and Wendy was able to accept those changes without any problems. They have increased her I.V. food intake and the doctor couldn't be happier. You can imagine how I feel if the doctor couldn't be happier!!

Her "trachea" operation has been scheduled for Friday (the earliest availability) and that should make quite a difference for Wendy's comfort. She looks absolutely great...her color is excellent and she has started to open her beautiful eyes.  She is still heavily sedated and the doctors want to wait until she gets the trachea before they start weaning her off the sedatives. They said it probably would be three weeks before she gets out of intensive care and most likely another three months before she gets out of the hospital. Are they kidding???? Do they know who they are fooling with??? Obviously not!! Knowing Wendy the way we do she will probably get out in two weeks!! Hopefully her recovery is quick and painless. She will need extensive physical therapy, but we really don't care as long as she is getting well and is coming back to all of us.

 

September 7, 1998    Day 35, still in intensive care and still on life support.

Wendy had her "trach" put in on Friday morning and came through with flying colors. When they brought her up from the operating room and reconnected her to all the monitors and ventilator you wouldn't have known that she even left the room. All her vital signs were excellent and the doctors were extremely pleased. She had a great day on Saturday with both doctors walking around with big smiles. My new motto is...."when the doctors are smiling...we are smiling!" They were very happy and said that we've turned the corner. The odds have now changed from 40-60 to 80-20! Sunday was a little rough for Wendy as they discovered an infection, which they had really anticipated and were prepared for. Because of the infection, her heart rate and blood pressure were increased because of her increased temperature. She is on antibiotics and hopefully by Tuesday they will have a definitive answer as to exactly what strain the infection is so they can treat it with the proper antibiotic. Today, Monday, she had a really good day. The ventilator technician came in and was stunned at how well she is doing on the machine. Actually reached a new low of 28% combined with lower pressure, Wendy has dazzled all of them Are WE surprised???? She is tolerating more intake of food and the plan is to slowly ween her off the morphine she has been getting every hour. They actually skipped three hours the other day and she did fine. Also today I was so happy to see Wendy open her eyes. The nurse said that if I could get her to blink on command that that would be a great breakthrough. I asked her to blink twice and she did. The nurse let out a big yelp and ran to tell everybody else at the nurse's station. They all came running in with big smiles on their faces and it appears that it was a lot more important than I realized. Just having the opportunity to see her beautiful eyes was a great relief to me. With the tubes out of her mouth, her face looks absolutely stunning. Her color is excellent, however her hair is a little more gray than she would like!!  I hate to keep being a pest...but please don’t stop your prayers just yet. We haven't reached the end of the road yet and your continued prayers have gotten us this far. We need to be sure that the rest of the journey is a smooth one for her. Hopefully this week with the reduction of morphine and Valium that she will become a lot more awake. I tell her everyday how all of you are sending such nice messages of encouragement and support. I can't thank you all enough for all your help...I don't think I could have gotten through this without you.

 

September 12, 1998  Day 41....still in intensive care and still on life support.

I am so pleased to report that Wendy is getting better everyday. The doctors are smiling and remember..... when the doctor's are smiling....we are smiling!   The trick now is to try and get her off the morphine and Valium without getting her too agitated. They have tried for the last couple of days and she starts to have "an episode!" The doctor doesn't seem too concerned about this and she is trying to find that perfect spot so that Wendy can start waking up and give us that great smile we've been waiting for.  They are slowly reducing the amount of sedatives and the plan is to first ween her off the Valium and then the morphine. There is no concern whatsoever that she will become addicted to the morphine as they've told me they've had patients who have been on morphine for months without any problems. The key is to get her off the Valium and if she has to stay on the morphine that is o.k. since she can be awake with morphine. Wendy has made tremendous strides on the ventilator. They continue to drop the volume, pressure, and several other settings without any problems. Compared to where she was even two weeks ago...she has come a long way. Her x-rays, blood gas (which measures her ability to exchange CO2 and oxygen) are excellent. Her vital signs are staying strong; especially her kidneys. For somebody so small she sure can fill up the urine containers! They have increased her food intake (via I.V.) from 15 to 70 and she is tolerating that fine. I think you'll agree that it is a very good sign when they have introduced me to another doctor who will be taking care of Wendy in the TCU (transitional unit care) which is where patients go after ICU. They brought in a neurologist today and they confirmed that Wendy has suffered a tremendous loss of her muscle tone but the prognosis is good for a full recovery. This will take a long time and will be very difficult for both Wendy and me. You can just imagine how frustrated she is going to be not being able to jump up out of bed and walk out of the hospital. I anticipate that if all goes well that hopefully she'll be able to leave the hospital approximately in December!

 

September 15, 1998    43 days....still in intensive care & still on life support

HOWEVER....... it appears that she has turned the corner and today when I walked into the room her eyes were wide open and she gave me the biggest smile you've ever seen. She then opened her mouth and said, "I love you!" Can it get any better than this???? Over six long weeks and this was the day we've all been waiting for. She hasn't received any sedatives for over two days and her vital signs have been termed, "textbook!". The infamous Dr. Rogers came in with a smile almost as big as Wendy's and then instructed the nurse to get the P7000 ventilator machine that will allow them to ween her off the ventilator machine altogether. They are already talking about trying to get her to sit up in a chair.  She is receiving physical therapy already and she hasn't lost her sense of humor as she got a big smile on her face and actually nodded her head toward the television. When I looked up...it was the financial station and it had Cisco on the screen going up by 2 points!!  I can't even begin to thank all of you for your understanding, compassion, love, and prayers. Wendy & I couldn't have done this without you and I am so happy to share this great news with you.

 

September 20, 1998    48 days....still in intensive care and still on life support!!

BUT........... She is wide-awake and when you walk into the room she gives that great Wendy smile. She has not received any sedation for quite awhile, however they do have to give her some medicine for anxiety, which was anticipated.  They had her sitting up in a special chair on Friday for a couple of hours. She is doing physical therapy and she actually waved goodbye to her son Erik as he left the room!! She is moving her legs and they are amazed (are we???) at her progress.  We had a minor setback yesterday when one of her lungs collapsed and they had to try three times to get the right tube inserted to correct the problem. It appears that everything is o.k. and she isn't any worse for the expected problem.  They also switched back to the old ventilator machine and the doctor indicated that if all goes well that maybe within the next week they can ween her off of it! The trach will come out and all that is left is the physical therapy. Wendy and I want to thank you all for your continued support. We couldn't have gotten where we are today without your constant prayers, love, and friendship. We need to pray just a little longer for her to improve as quickly as possible and come back to all of us

 

September 27, 1998   56 days....still in intensive care and still on life support...

BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS.... Wendy has turned the corner and I have such great news to share with you.

All the prayers you have done for her has worked. She has made such tremendous progress in just the past week that the doctors just stand at the foot of her bed and shake their heads in disbelief. Words like "miracle" are being said over and over by all the nurses and doctors. Her improvement has been nothing short of phenomenal. I'm sure all of you are not going to be surprised when I tell you that she was actually off the ventilator for about five hours today and showed no problems breathing on her own. They have gotten her out of bed and sitting in a chair for about an hour with no problems. Last week she was so weak from lying in bed for seven weeks that she had no muscle tone and her arms and legs were just "limp rags". Will you be surprised when I tell you that tonight she scratched her nose and crossed her legs. A "MIRACLE!!!!" Her smile is lighting up the room just like it used to and her memory; except for those awful seven weeks is back to normal. She remembers Cisco....she remembers Amazon...but she doesn't seem to remember how much of a stud I was!!!. We have told her how close she came to leaving us and she certainly is thankful that the prayers (which I told her) from all of you helped her get to this point. She "yells" at the doctor that she wants a baked potato more than anything else. The doctor told us tonight that if she continues to progress the way she has...that in about a week she should be off the life support and eating. The doctor realizes the drive Wendy has and is pretty comfortable with having her come home a lot sooner than they anticipated.

There was an article in People magazine a couple of weeks ago about a woman who took some medication and had a violent reaction and suffered major psychological problems for about three years. I wrote the magazine and they published my letter in last weeks issue explaining Wendy's situation and how important it is for people to take responsibility for the medication they are taking. I received calls from all over the United States from people who have personally suffered from ARDS or had a relative who suffered from ARDS. They all told me that there is no long-term effect and that they live a normal life. This is great news to know that when this is all over that Wendy will be her wonderful special self again. She has lost about 20 pounds and I told her it was a lousy way to go on a diet.  Again we can't even begin to tell all of you how much we appreciate your support, love, and prayers throughout this ordeal. You can all be aware that you contributed in such a major way to her full recovery. I have told Wendy about all your great e-mails and how much all of you cares. It has brought such a great smile to her face. I've saved all your e-mails so she can read them when she comes home.

 

September 30, 1998    58 days....still in intensive care and NOTon life support!!!!

Wendy has continued to dazzle the doctors with being off life support for two days now. They come into the room and say they are going to do something for a couple of hours.... come in a couple of hours later and just cannot believe their eyes at what she can accomplish.  How well is she doing???? Are you ready for this???? I just received a phone call about fifteen minutes ago from.......WENDY!!! She called to say goodnight to me and that she loved me. Can I even begin to tell you how I felt?!?!? They changed her "trach" today and now she can talk!! They are going to move the ventilator out of the room and if there was a bed available, they would have also moved her out of intensive care into the transitional care unit. Her oxygen level is at a constant 100% which is probably better than you and I have in our bodies. They just can't believe that she is making such tremendous progress. She sat up in bed today with her feet hanging over the side and without her knowing we lifted our hands off her back and she was sitting up by herself. A week ago she couldn't even lift her hands off the bed. They explained that with the paralytic and the length of time she has been in bed that it would take a couple of months to get her strength back. Today while I was talking with her she reached up and scratched her nose!! Are any of us surprised?? I don't think so.

She is back!! We are so lucky to have such special friends like you.   The doctor came in yesterday and had a long talk with Wendy and the both of them cried. The doctor told Wendy that they were "this close" to losing her, but her will and fight kept her going. Of course your prayers did the rest.  My target date of December 1st certainly has to be revised as Wendy has said that she will be home in a couple of weeks. Should I question her??? I don't think so.

I am so happy to be able to share such great news with all of you who have gone through this with me. I know that you too are as happy as I am.

 

October 6, 1998

THIS IS THE NEWS WE'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!!!!

OUT OF INTENSIVE CARE  OFF LIFE SUPPORT!!!!!

Yep, it's true. Wendy is out of intensive care today and has been off life support for about a week. No i.v.'s.....no tubes stuck in her anywhere....no more ice chips to eat....now she has eaten her baked potato and is very happy.

The smile we all love is back....she looks absolutely beautiful!! She hasn't looked this good for a long time.

Now we start the long road to rehab. They moved her to a private room upstairs and she will probably stay there for about a week and then the plan is to move her to a convalescent hospital to start intensive physical therapy until she can walk. With the way she is improving everyday that shouldn't take too long. My guesstimate of December 1st now appears to be way off. If all goes well, hopefully she'll be home by Holloween.

Wendy is very aware of how all of you have been such great strength to the both of us during this entire episode. Again your prayers, love, and caring have meant so much to us and I have saved all your e-mails for her to see the kind words you've written. We can't begin to express how much your support has meant to us and you will be blessed for this. God love you all and thank you for helping me get Wendy back to me and all of us. We will all be thankful to be given the chance to continue to have our lives enriched by this special person.

 

October 11, 1998

Day 69: And the good news continues..........

They are pulling one tube after another out of her.....all of her "wounds" from the i.v.'s are healing.....

the hole where her trach is closing up....she is eating regular food (and yes she did finally get her baked potato). She is getting up out of bed by herself and getting into a wheelchair with the help of a walker and today she got up out of bed, used the walker to go to the bathroom. The plan at this time appears to be to have her come directly home sometime this week. The doctors continue to be amazed at her progress not believing how well she is doing so soon.

Hopefully the next e-mail you receive will be directly from Wendy. She only has 250 e-mails to read from everybody that sent one.

 

October 18, 1998 Directly from Wendy

I am finally home looking forward to a full recovery in the months ahead. I can not thank all of you enough for all of your prayers and well wishes. I feel so lucky to have come through this and know that it was all of my family and friends like you and your prayers and the excellent medical care I had that brought me back home.

I still have a long way to go but I have managed to independently walk, with a walker, from my home base in the family room to the computer room - one of the first goals. Are you surprised!! I have a physical therapist come twice a week to help me get back to normal. It seems that I have gained back a lot of strength but still have trouble with the breathing even with the help of oxygen. I only need the oxygen when moving around. The one question everyone asks me is if I remember anything - No, I do not remember anything during the weeks I was asleep. The two months are totally lost to me. The e-mails Ken has sent will help me understand and the doctors have told me some of the worst things. I do believe that I heard everything said to me but just don't remember.

I can't tell you how good it is to be home. I will be sending updates and also sending notes to each of you individually but be patient it still is an effort for me.

 

November 14, 1998

Didn't want you to think we've forgotten about you and wanted to share Wendy's progress to date.

As you can imagine we are all so happy to have her home and the decision to let her stay in the hospital a few extra days instead of going to a nursing home appears to be the correct decision. Her progress continues to be nothing short of a miracle. The day before she got home we made arrangements for a walker, wheelchair, portable oxygen, and a stationary oxygen machine which would allow her to walk around the house with a long cord. When she arrived home on October 15th, she could hardly walk without the aid of a walker and oxygen. The first thing she wanted to do was to take a shower. Can you imagine the feeling she had to have warm water on her and have her hair washed? She was in heaven!! Two and a half months of dry shampoo and body washes. Yek!! She was able to go from our family room to the bathroom (with oxygen), however had to sit in the bathroom for about 40 minutes to get her breath back.  Arrangements were made to have a physical therapist come to the house and work with her to build her strength back up. Two weeks ago, after several sessions with the therapist, he suggested Wendy start trying to see if she could walk up a stair or two. She tried and could only lift her weight (which is about 95 pounds) only one step and realized that she had no muscles in her thighs. He told her that it probably would take another couple of weeks before she could get to the top of the stairs. Obviously he didn't realize who he was dealing with. Two days later he came again and she was able to walk to the top of the stairs (approximately 20 stairs) sit down and rest and then walk down to the bottom. We were forced to sleep in the family room on the couch until she could climb the stairs but the thought of being able to sleep in our own bed was enough of an incentive for her to want to get to the top. We now watch her walk up and down the stairs, albeit, very slowly, without oxygen but then she needs a little blast of air to catch her breath. Her mental outlook is very positive although she is trying to deal with the ordeal she has just gone through. She remembers absolutely NOTHING during the time she was "asleep" She has total recall of things prior and things after but nothing during. Maybe that's just as good. She gets better everyday and her beautiful smile is as beautiful as ever.  She can't find the words to express her gratitude for all of you who showed all the caring, concern, thoughtfulness, love, and prayers during this awful time. She realizes that we are blessed with friends like you who contributed so much to her recovery.  I am so glad to be able to send you this update and let you know that Wendy is on the road to a full recovery. We are all so happy that we will continue to be able to share her life with all of us and you can just imagine how ecstatic we are that she will be part of her son's wedding next year.