Here is the story of the second time I broke the no keeping in touch with patients. It is a little lengthy but amazing.
It was December 31, 1999, and Y2K was coming up fast. I was at a wedding reception with most of my family. My friends Denise and Dennis decided to get married and risk the fall of the world which did not happen. At the same time T was admitted to another hospital with flu-like symptoms that would quickly be diagnosed as meningococcal meningitis. It is the bad kind, the really bad kind with a not very high survival rate.
Sometime in February T was transferred to Mercy burn unit for would care. He had survived the meningitis but the vasopressor medicines he needed to keep him with a blood pressure to stay alive had destroyed the circulation to his hands and feet. They were pretty much black when the burn unit met him. I believe he may have still been on life support as well as dialysis for kidney failure. He was twenty-nine years old and had a picture of himself crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in under four hours. I can still see the picture as if it was yesterday. I was not a runner, never planned to be but was so impressed by this.
He wasn’t with us long before it was apparent the only thing to do was amputations and we started with his legs. I will never forget I was his nurse the night his mother had to sign the consents. She asked to talk to the doctor and others were like she already talked to him once. Looking back and being a mother myself I totally understand. I had a really hard time witnessing the consent because he just ran the Chicago marathon and this would most likely prevent him from ever running again. By the time the surgeries were completed and down to viable tissue T was left with one leg above the knee, one below the knee, one hand gone and the other arm mid forearm. However he was alive and it wasn’t too long before he peed on my best burn unit buddy. She was never so happy to be peed on! He was out of kidney failure and soon off of dialysis.
He then was transferred to rehab which at the time was still in the hospital on the third floor. I worked three to eleven back then so would often stop by and see him. I will never forget one day when we were talking and I told him I would rather be dead. (Leave it to me and my brutal honesty. I can still see the look of utter shock on his face) He said “not me I still have plenty of things I want to do.”
He was discharged on May 5 and started outpatient therapy. I would stop in and see his progress from time to time. He was learning how to walk and use both prosthetic arms. I visited one day when he was trying to button a shirt. I was so frustrated just watching him but he never gave up. During this time I would mail him crazy stories of my life. (Foreshadowing for this blog I suppose.)
My nephew was born in August and T sent me a hand written sympathy card. He was only three months home from the hospital. I have it in my scrapbook on Andrews page. It blew me away and his prosthetic hand writing was better than mine with real hands.
The 2002 Winter Olympics were to be held in Salt Lake City Utah and T set a goal to walk and carry the Olympic torch when it came through St. Louis. He met that goal 1/6/02 and I took Emily and Kayla out of school. I even had my scheduled changed and my manager was thrilled I went and asked to see the pictures.
Kayla is hiding behind Emily in the picture. This was before the day of my digital camera so the pictures are not the best but they still make me smile when I look at them.
T was a Pharmacist with a doctorate degree and decided to go back to law school in the fall of 2002. He decided he wanted to fight for disability rights. So he applied, attended, graduated summa cum laude and passed the boards. He then taught pharmacy law at St. Louis College of Pharmacy for a few years. He then moved out-of-state to practice law and then eventually moved back to the midwest and again taught law at a pharmacy school. It seems he may be the dean of the school but I’m not positive.
I have received a Christmas card every year from his as well. He always has a small hand written note for me. This year his mother said to tell me hi! That so touched my heart. I have not seen her since he carried the torch.
I find myself thinking of T when I’m running and it gets really, really hard. For a full marathon that is somewhere around the twenty-mile mark. When I ran the fifty mile it was the last ten miles. I often tell myself I am running for him. He had hoped one day to do the Chicago marathon again but that never happened. I think it takes a lot of energy to walk on prosthetic legs.
Currently there is such an anti vaccine movement in this country that I am going to take this opportunity to say that when T came down with meningitis there was not a vaccine for it. There is now and although it is rare I would bet my house he would tell everyone to get it. The only reason he survived was because he was in top shape from marathon training. (I remember the doctors telling him back in the day.) I am pretty sure he’d rather risk autism, big pharma getting rich, government poison and mind control over waking up two months later after thinking he had the flu to discover he had meningitis and now would have to learn how to use four prosthetics and relearn how to take care of himself.
Mole Moral ~ I’ve taken care of some amazing people over the years but T is by far the most incredible person I have ever met, that taught me a lot, and I’m so glad I reached out to him with my first note when he was in rehab.