I am a teacher from Southern Ohio who survived a disease called ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). I would like to share my story of the healing power of the Lord.

I became ill in late January 2001, and visited urgent cares, doctors, and emergency rooms. I was told that I had the flu and should be fine in a few days. After a week of trying to find out what was wrong with me, I went to the emergency room, and was diagnosed with "large pneumonia". The doctor said that he wanted to put me in ICU just to keep an eye on me. The next day I was on life support. The day after that, I was placed in a drug induced coma with about a 40% chance of survival. I was on every prayer list from here to Russia. The doctors told my parents and husband that they had to make a choice whether to keep me in our hospital or send me to The Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus. I took a turn for the worse that night, and the doctor made the decision to life flight me to the OSU Hospital. I remained in a coma and on life support for over a month. I was given all sorts of medicines to experiment to give me a better chance of survival. The one that finally seemed to work was Serfactant.

At this time, my son was 7 months. While in the coma, I had very vivid dreams that he had been kidnapped, and I looked all over the country for him in my mind. I could hear what people in the room visiting were saying, and I translated it into these dreams. It was terrible.

I had 5 chest tubes, several surgeries, blood transfusions, and much more, while I was in the coma. I could hardly breathe when I was lying on my back, so most of the time I was in the coma, I was on my belly. I now have pressure scars on my stomach from this. I also was given Heparin to prevent blood clots, and I had an allergic reaction to it, and developed blood clots, and developed a "frost bite" like symptom on several parts of my body including my right foot. I ended up losing the toes on my right foot. I also was so swollen that I had severe carpal tunnel in my right hand, so I couldn't even move my thumb and two fingers. I had surgery for that as well, but they are still numb, and I spent a lot of time in Occupational Therapy. When I finally woke up from the coma, I was still on the ventilator, and I was paralyzed from the neck down. I couldn't talk or move. On top of that, I had no idea where I was and I was anxious, and hallucinating. I overheard from one visitor that there was an inmate down the hall, and in my mind, there was a prison break, and the inmates were looking at me through the lights. My brother must have visited around that time, because I thought they got him and wouldn't release him. I was terrified. I had no idea what was going on.

Finally one of the nurses gave my husband a letter board, and he would point to the letters, and I would try to spell out messages by nodding my head. I would spell out, "I want to go home!" every time he would use the letter board. I couldn't understand what was going on. I asked my husband with the letter board one day what was wrong, so he wrote ARDS on the chalkboard next to my bed. I had never heard of this, and couldn't figure out what was going on.

After a few more weeks, I was finally moved out of ICU, and into a regular room, and MY SON GOT TO VISIT!!! I was so afraid that he had forgotten me. I knew that because I was paralyzed, I wouldn't be able to hold him. When he got to the hospital, he was really tired and cranky. MY whole family tried to calm him down. Finally I asked them to put him in bed with me, and he went right to sleep. He hadn't forgotten me!!!

After 2 months in Columbus, I was finally able to come back to my hometown, but I was sent to a nursing home for rehab. I still was paralyzed, and was starting to be able to talk. I had to learn how to talk, eat, brush my teeth...everything! It was horrible. My husband chose a nursing home that was across the street from the pharmacy that he worked at, so he could come and check on me in the morning, at lunch, and when he got off work. My son stayed with my mother-in-law. (While I was in the coma, my son got his first tooth.)

I was so depressed when I got to the nursing home rehab and saw all of these old people who had broken hips or strokes. I was only 29!!! After a few days, I began to adjust. I worked hard all day, every day to get back on my feet. After about three weeks, I was able to walk almost the length of the hallway with a walker. I saw a lot of the older people able to do it, so it was one of my goals. The therapists there were great. I was able to see my son for about an hour a day while I was there. This was a relief. I was determined to get better and be able to take care of him.

After a month, I was sent back to our hospital for inpatient rehab. I was there for around 3 or 4 weeks, and was finally able to go home. I still couldn't walk without a walker, but I was going home! I continued outpatient rehab, and prayed everyday that I would be able to walk soon. One day, I saw something on the floor, and was afraid my son would get it in his mouth, and I walked about 3 steps before I realized it!!! My sister-in-law, who stayed with me while my husband worked, said, "Angie, you just walked without a walker!" After that, I was determined to walk without the walker. I practiced around the house, and eventually, I got to walk into therapy with just a cane! It was so great.

I was told that I would not be able to go back to work in the fall, and that I probably should consider a different profession, because young children always seem to carry in colds and other germs. Well, by the beginning of August, I was walking without a walker, and was determined to go back to work. I had the surgery to remove my toes the first week of August, and by the 27th, I was back to teaching! This was only six months after I originally went into the coma. I prayed it through, and felt like it was meant for me to go back this year. I love my job, and feel that it is what I am meant to do. As long as I do the Lord's will in my life, I know He will continue to bless me. Without Him, I know I'd be gone by now. While in Intensive care in Columbus, I prayed and prayed. God was the only one who could hear me, because I couldn't talk out loud. He spoke to me and gave me the idea for a children's program at my church. My sister-in-law and I started the program, and we now have nearly 30 children. We were down to 7 or 8. It is growing every week.

Life was not easy for me, even after I went back to work. I had a long battle ahead of me. I was still on a lot of medication, including a pain patch. I was on an emotional roller coaster. I was still having paranoid thoughts, and I was very depressed. I thought my husband didn't love me anymore, even though he stayed at my side, and took such good care of me, and dressed my foot everyday before he went to work. I though I needed to do "something" to feel alive. Fortunately I am a Christian, so that "something" that I felt I needed to do ended up getting my masters degree. I started classes in February 2002. Soon after starting classes, I found out I was expecting another baby. I was very nervous, but knew that God was in control. My second son was born in 2003, and I had no complications. I finished my degree the same month.

More than seven years later, I am still hanging in there. I still enjoy being a mommy to my two little boys and a wife to my hubby of 12 years, I still teach, and I still love the Lord. At a very young age, I dedicated my life to serving Him, and I feel that this has been something that He trusted me with. Even though I get down every now and then, when I have flashbacks, I know that God is in control of my life, and He has a plan for me and will always be with me.

Angie Finn

If you or someone you love is going through ARDS, and you need someone to talk to about it, feel free to e-mail me at finna71@gmail.com.