Looking down at her belly Sandy Wilson after giving birth to her son, she was stunned to see her intestines covered by layers of plastic. She was confused, in a drugged fog and thinking she would not survive this or am I in a movie?
No horror movie could compare to the horror and pain she was to endure from flesh-eating bacteria that were eating her alive.
“When I looked down at my belly, basically all the skin was gone and I could see my internal organs,” she said. “I remember seeing my intestines. I thought, ‘There’s no way I can live like this … This is a death sentence.'”
Being a nurse, she knew what was wrong with her body, she had gotten drug-resistant superbugs Streptococcal Necrotizing Fasciitis commonly called the “flesh-eating” bacteria that produced toxins and cause nightmarish infections It attacts those compromised or weak immune systems. It kills 20 percent of its victims and horribly disfigures others.
With only one way to rid the body of its decaying parts, doctors cut away dead tissue, but the infection often spreads over much of thee body inside and out. It ate Wilson’s spleen gall bladder, appendix, part of her stomach, her intestines, and her marriage over the next five year. That was the bad news.
The good news
A tribute to her positive attitude, indominable spirit,
determination to live to raise her son, help others, a loving family
and compassionate skilled medical support.
Over five years, she had countless surgeries, including an unusual organ transplant. For much of that time, she lived in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, fed by tubes and unable to give her young son a bath, to read him a bedtime story, to tuck him in at night. She lost her marriage and endured unimaginable pain.
She spend so much time in the hospital for years after her baby was born that She feared her baby was dead. Her family brought him to see her through a window, but she accused them of borrowing a baby from the hospital. They took pictures of Christopher at home with newspapers showing the current date, like kidnappers do to prove a captive is alive. She remained unconvinced, and would not cooperate with her medical care.
Finally, when he was several months old, they put her in isolation gowns and brought him to a conference room. A tiny arm poked out of his blanket.
“I have a freckle on my right arm and he has one on his left in the same spot. I remembered that,” Wilson said. “That’s when I thought, ‘OK, he’s here, he’s real. I’ve got to get back home to him, to get better now.'”
“It was so incredibly hard,” Wilson said. “I wanted to feed him and bathe him and clothe him, and walk him when he cried. I worked in the pediatric emergency room for 11 years. I had waited all my life to do this for my own child, to take care of him, and I couldn’t.”
Her son Christopher’s first birthday party was in the rehab hospital. For his second, Wilson was in a medically induced coma and didn’t even see him. The little boy took it all in stride and never seemed afraid, said Lori Walden-Vetters, another nurse and family friend.
The little boy would color pictures on the wipeable patient information board in her room, and nurses made her a mobile of family photos. She said nightly prayers with her parents, but worried sometimes about the looks on their faces and those of the staff.
Natural Medicine therapies help her live a full life again.
When her pain and separation from her son and family became too much, she was comfort and inspired from Reiki, acupuncture and guided visual imagery integrated medicine therapies that allowed her self confidence, peace and sense of control over her destiny and health to grow anew.
One more major surgery would arrive to challenge her health came in December 2006, when she had to have her small bowel and large intestine transplant. A month later, she had an appetite for the first time in years and devoured her first meal of lasagna, zucchini, salad and cake. That was a big mistake, her stomach energy was not up to processing so much foos suddenly and complained. “It was amazing to actually be able to chew something and to have different flavors in your mouth.”
Struggling progressing one small step at a time she has returned to a normal life.
“You’ve got to look at one small piece: OK, I walked two more feet today. What am I going to do tomorrow?” Wilson said.
Her abdomen looks like a patchwork quilt. Her son loves to throw his arms around it. A big Star Wars fan he challenges her to Star Wars light saber duels. He begs her to take him to his favorite park, where she threw the ultimate Star Wars-themed party for his fifth birthday in April.
She spends as much time as possible with her son and family at home, but her desire to serve has returned along with her health, she plans to return to work at the hospital where she had worked before her own Star War’s recovery became the movie to live and triumph.
How do her doctors and other cohorts fell about her return?
“I think that’s great,” said Scalea, the top surgeon at Shock Trauma.
Wilson plans to take refresher courses this fall so she can return to work, and managers at the University of Maryland “have offered to help me get back to whatever I want to do,” she said.
“I would like to be able to help someone else who has gone through this.”
“Thanks AP and Yahoo News for sharing this inspiring story of human will to live and People Helping People.”
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/9t3dr2