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Walking Time Bomb
Submitted By: Kandice DeRubis


   
Kandice DeRubis - Walking Time Bomb


I had been the one to say that anyone of us can be a walking time bomb. Little did I know that in July 2009 I would be that next walking time bomb and would be faced with overcoming an emotionally and physically near death experience.

My 5 day vacation to Colorado turned into an 8 week stay at St. Anthony Central Hospital. It was not exactly the way I had
planned to end my summer. Patrick and I had left for our flight to Denver on July 18th. I actually started to get sick in Pittsburgh, but thought it was anxiety. As our flight continued, my symptoms became stronger and by the time we made our connection in Chicago, I thought that I had the flu. When we got to Denver International Airport, I was still feeling very ill. A few hours later as we made our way to Patrick’s son’s home, I began to experience abdominal pain. They took me to the nearest emergency room in Frisco. I was then transported by “Flight for Life” to the downtown Denver hospital, St Anthony Central. I was not given much time, and that is the last thing I remembered.

I was put into a drug induced coma for 3 weeks and had to endure multiple surgeries on my abdomen. What had happened
was my colon had perforated due to diverticulitis which I did not know I had. The sepsis had filled my body, and my appendix,
gall bladder, part of my small intestine, and part of my large intestine had been removed.  I went into respiratory failure and
was on a ventilator. After that, a tracheotomy was performed to aid in my breathing.

My two daughters and Patrick were told at one point that I was not going to make it because my intestines were dying. A vascular surgeon was brought in to examine the intestines. After touching every part of them, he found that there had been a small amount of blood flow, so he induced volumes of fluid, at least 40 lbs, into my body. Attempted surgery to reconnect my intestines failed, so a colostomy had to be performed. Actually this is what saved my life.

When I began to come out of the coma, I was completely disoriented as to where I was and what had happened to me. There
I was not able to talk, not able to walk, not able to do those simple things that I took for granted, such as brushing my teeth, combing my hair, sponge bathing, etc. It was an effort for me to even sit up. It took many weeks to overcome these obstacles, but with daily physical and occupational therapy, I began to slowly improve. I had to learn to walk again and to go up and down stairs. With the assistance of a walker, my walks became longer to the point that I achieved walking around the nurses’ station. That was an accomplishment for me. Patrick would take me outside in a wheelchair and assist me with learning to walk again with shoes on my feet. Spending 7 out of 8 weeks with me, 13 hours a day, he was a tremendous part of my recovery. With a simulated car, I was taught how to easily get in and out to prepare for my trip to the airport. Because of the trauma to my body and the fact that my stomach was “asleep”, I was not able to properly digest foods. I battled severe nausea which prevented me from eating solid foods. This was another obstacle to overcome and prolonged my return home.

Finally, on September 12th we returned home to Pennsylvania. Landing at Pittsburgh International Airport never looked so good. My friends and family were there to welcome us home. I stayed with my Mom for 2 weeks and had the services of Community Nursing, along with in home physical therapy. Within 4 weeks, I was discharged and able to receive out patient physical therapy services at Western PA Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Kelly and her assistants helped me to work on strengthening my upper and lower body and gain the confidence to walk without a cane. After 2 months, I was transitioned into their wellness program. I work out Monday through Friday in which I continue to work on my upper, lower, and abdominal body strength to prepare for another surgery in April. After that, I will begin rehabilitation again at Western PA to continue strengthening myself. My goal is to be stronger than I was before I got sick and through the wellness program at Western PA Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation I plan to accomplish just that.

All the therapists went out of their way to help me, which helped with the healing process and my confidence.
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