Sidney S.

Sidney S.

A long-time resident of Burns, Oregon, Sidney Spink was hospitalized in January at St. Charles Medical Center for a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. He was expected to be back to work at ODOT in just a few days. While in the hospital, though, Sidney had a few problems. These complications led to bilateral pneumonia, which ultimately progressed to severe respiratory distress syndrome. As he later recalled, “I went downhill quickly after that.”

Sidney’s memory of the days and weeks that followed are vague, but he does remember hearing someone tell his wife, “I don’t think Sidney’s going to make it.” Dependent on a ventilator for breathing and profoundly ill, Sidney later admitted, “I, too, began to think it was my time to go.”

Fortunately, Sidney’s condition began to stabilize, and in February he was transferred to Vibra Specialty Hospital for Vibra’s highly regarded ventilator weaning program. Though no longer in imminent danger, Sidney remained critically ill and needed close medical management by Vibra’s skilled team of hospitalists, intensivists, registered nurses and respiratory therapists.

It was slow going for Sidney, at times taking one step backward for every step forward. Dr. Will Boyan, Vibra’s pulmonologist, persisted, and suddenly one day Sidney began to turn the corner. “I looked over at that machine,” Sidney says referring to the ventilator next to him, "and I told myself that I've got to get off this thing." His will to survive was now buoyed by the strength and dedication of family and friends, and in particular his wife, Joan, who was at his bedside every day. “I knew I had to get home and I was not going to bring that machine with me.”

By March, Sidney was well enough to be off the ventilator for a few minutes at a time. His first words were to Joan. "Thank you for being here every day. I love you.” Two weeks later, Sidney was successfully removed from the ventilator for good. He has also started to gain some of the muscle mass that was lost with his prolonged hospitalization. A rancher and former logger known for his physical strength and verve, Sidney was shocked when he discovered he couldn’t even stand. But with the aid of Vibra’s dedicated physical therapist, hee took first three, then ten then 50 steps. Another few steps beyond that is the exit door that will lead him home.

“Everyone here has been wonderful,” proclaimed Sidney. He was especially touched by daily visits from Dr. Cynthia Wallace, Vibra’s former Medical Director. “Not only is she a great doctor, but she also took her time to simply visit with me and never seemed rushed.” As for the nurses, “It would be hard to pick the best one. They’re all great.”

Sidney considers himself blessed, and eagerly anticipates returning home to his ranch with plans to retire. “I’m not one to sit still, though. I have lots of toys," he says with a boyish grin. "I've got a Harley Davidson, a four-wheeler, a boat, and I love to hunt and fish." Knowing Sidney, he’ll be enjoying life to the fullest as eastern Oregon welcomes him back home.