Judy M.

Judy M.

Judy Madson of Seaside, Oregon recalls the head cold she was determined to ignore while visiting Austria, one of many stops during the European vacation she and her husband Mike were enjoying last June. It worsened so rapidly, but it was just a cold; why was Mike asking the hotel staff to call an ambulance? Leaving the hotel is the last thing I remember for the next six weeks,” recalled Judy quietly.

When Judy awoke from her coma, Mike, who had been at her bedside every day, told her that she had contracted bacterial pneumonia, and that the bacteria had invaded her blood stream, causing blood poisoning, or sepsis. The sepsis triggered kidney and lung failure, necessitating dialysis and ventilator support. Because blood flow to her extremities was severely compromised from the sepsis, portions of Judy’s hands and legs had to be amputated. Judy’s world had changed irrevocably, but “I’m still alive,” she observed.

It was not until late August that Judy could fly the 5,500 miles back to OHSU, where another two months went into ensuring Judy could survive without dialysis. Still dependent on a ventilator, Judy was now ready for another move – to Vibra Specialty Hospital for ongoing management of her complex medical needs: ventilator support, specialized wound care for her multiple amputations, and physical, occupational and speech therapies.

The Vibra team’s primary goal – liberating Judy from the ventilator – proved to be especially challenging. Judy recalls frustration and anxiety while attempting her breathing exercises. “For some reason,” she lamented, “the instructions just didn’t make sense to me.” With little forward progress, concern that Judy might be dependent on a ventilator for life was mounting.

“Maggie was the one who turned things around for me,” remembers Judy with gratitude. One of Vibra’s respiratory therapists, Maggie had a soothing presence about her and was able to restore Judy’s lost sense of calm. Through kindness and steadied coaching, she provided instructions that Judy could understand, becoming pivotal to the change in the path Judy would begin to follow.

Five long months after being placed on a breathing machine, Judy triumphed over the odds and was freed from mechanical ventilation. With renewed fortitude, she turned her attention to talking, eating, and getting physically stronger. Vibra Speech Therapist Stephanie facilitated trials of speaking and swallowing, and remembers fondly, “Once Judy decided she was going to eat and talk again, there was no stopping her.”

Today, with healthy lungs, fully functioning kidneys and healed wounds, Judy is in a rehabilitation center taking on her next challenge: walking again. She sees the wheelchair in which she sits as a temporary arrangement. With the focused determination that has come to define her, Judy insists, “I’ve still got some golf to play.”