Anne is a returning Bent On Better member and has been a realtor for more than 13 years. Before that, she was also a social worker and has worked with older adults. She is happily married, has a 22-year-old daughter, and also looks after her aunt, who’s 82. She had a very full and active life.
Anne started working out at Bent On Better last 2018 but had to take a hiatus because of other priorities and family obligations. However, she made sure that it was on top of her vision to return to working out at Bent On Better again. Now that she is back, Anne would like to share how in December of 2020, she experienced a medical emergency that almost took her life.
More Than Just an Ear Infection
Anne is the type of person who usually gets chronic ear infections. Right after Thanksgiving, she noticed she was having some ear pain and she made an appointment to have it checked. She was given some medication and also went through a Covid test. Since there was no rapid testing at the time, she had to go home and wait for the test results. A couple of days later, she received a call from the doctor’s office and was told she was negative for Covid. But during that time, Anne noticed that the pain in her ears was much worse than usual. That weekend her fever rose to 103F, and she was taking Ibuprofen and Tylenol at the same time. Her head and ears were screaming in pain, so she contacted the doctor again to report her condition.
Rushing to the ER
The nurse checked Anne’s Covid test again and found out that it was a false negative, which meant that while the test didn’t detect the virus, she actually got infected with it. She was asked to drop everything and head to the hospital. Her husband and daughter dropped her off outside the emergency room since family members were not allowed inside and they waited to know what was going on, whether they wait for Anne to be given medications or to keep her for observation. The last thing Anne could ever recall was that the nurse put her in a wheelchair and took her information. She woke up a month later.
In Critical Care
Anne got sick very quickly. In just a few days, they had done various tests on her, and she was put on a ventilator to help her lungs take in the oxygen she needed. Various medications and steroids were administered to her and they put her in prone position in which she had to lie on her stomach for improved oxygenation. Once she had been on ventilation for 14 to 16 days, the medical team attempted to take her from it, but she developed severe breathing problems, so they had to put her back on the ventilator. Her vocal cords were damaged during the process and she is now coping with its effects.
Throughout her hospital stay, the doctors at Chester County Hospital called Tony, Anne’s husband, several times a day to let him know how she was doing. According to Tony, the doctors would phone him at night to tell him that they weren’t sure whether she was going to wake up in the morning and that he needed to make final arrangements and contact their family. It’s a great load for a husband to take this kind of call more than once and most especially that they couldn’t be at the hospital.
Fortunately, Tony’s professional background is that of a nurse, and as a result, he had a thorough understanding of what was happening medically with Anne. However, in the healthcare industry, knowing too much can be just as bad as knowing too little. When doctors tell the family, they try to sugarcoat things, but he can read through it and know it’s a lot worse than what they say. So during that time, Tony had to make a lot of decisions, and it was quite difficult for the family.
The Christmas Miracle
After 20 to 21 days in an unconscious state, Anne finally woke up and was extubated as she was already breathing on her own. She remained completely unaware of the events that were taking place around her. Last thing she remembered, she had an awful ear infection and was told she had Covid. Suddenly she found herself lying on a hospital bed, with a slew of medical equipment, hoses and tubes, and people in white suits walking around.
Anne had a lot of questions, so the nursing staff told her what happened, while crying in between and asking where her husband and family is. Eventually, they let her husband come in and visit her for a brief time because she had just woken up. People around the hospital, the nursing staff and doctors, were in disbelief to see Anne sitting up, breathing and talking, knowing that several weeks ago, she was in a very critical state. Unfortunately, many of the patients with severe cases of Covid who came in around that time didn’t make it. For Anne, it truly was a Christmas miracle.
Once Anne was stable enough she was finally discharged and went to inpatient rehabilitation to improve her mobility, cognition, speech, and swallowing. And since the virus was still rampant at the time, she didn’t stay long for inpatient rehab and was advised to continue recuperating at home. She underwent physical therapy and occupational therapy for three months to support her recovery.
Being back at home presented a new set of challenges. This time, her husband and daughter were responsible for much of the work because she still needed help getting up and down and with her food. The muscles in her legs were weakened by too much time spent in bed, so she used a walker at some point and was extremely cautious when going up and down the steps.
Learning the Lessons
Before this whole ordeal, Anne used to do everything by herself. She is the fulcrum around which everything revolves. She is used to keeping things in order in terms of her work life and family life. She is used to being asked for help and not the other way around.
So it was a huge lesson for Anne to learn how to ask for help. While we are able to heavily rely on ourselves most of the time, we have to remember that we can always call out for help and there are people who are ready to be there for us. Anne is the pillar of strength and supporter of other people but even pillars need help sometimes — and it’s necessary to learn how to ask for it, especially if you’re going through a difficult time.
Overflowing with Gratitude
Anne wishes to express her gratitude to all the doctors and nurses who took care of her and to the entire health care community who are true heroes during the pandemic. She is also thankful to her coworkers who stepped up to fill her shoes while she was out of the office, to her community who showed up and took care of her family while she was hospitalized, called her, and dropped off gift cards and meals for them, offered to do housework, and everything that humanity is able to do for those in need during difficult times. Indeed, there is power in people caring for each other and there is power in prayers.
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