As part of our Your Life, Our Passion. initiative, UnityPoint Health - Des Moines (IHDM) asked patients to share with us their life shaping moments and experiences. This story is told by Brenda, a patient of IHDM. It tells the story of Brenda's courage fighting a deadly infection and her journey with IHDM through the process.
My life was changed at Iowa Methodist Medical Center on January 18, 2010. In the middle of the night, my husband noticed I was making strange noises and was unable to recognize anything, or anyone. He called the ambulance, which transported me to another hospital. When we arrived in the emergency room, they told him they didn't have the appropriate doctors to handle my situation, so they had an ambulance transfer me to Methodist.
By the time my husband arrived at Methodist, shortly after the ambulance, I was already in ICU with several doctors and staff members surrounding me. My husband was told that I had a Gangrene infection in my foot and that they would need to amputate immediately, or I probably wouldn't make it through the night.
The surgery went as to be expected with a left foot and leg amputation to above the knee. At that point I was in a coma, which I believe was good for me as I had to go in the bariatric chamber for an hour or so a day, for a few days following the amputation. I do not like closed spaces, so in a way the coma was a blessing.
Shortly after my amputation, I was transferred to the eighth floor where the nursing staff and transporters were amazing. They took me to my dialysis after I was diagnosed with renal failure; something I never imagined would affect me for the rest of my life. The dialysis staff (Ruth, Beth, Chris, Nickki, Jessica, and Phil) was incredible as they helped me through the process.
From the eighth floor, I was sent to Younker Rehab on the fourth floor, where I was again met by a wonderful crew of nurses. I especially remember Jan being extremely caring and really helping me along. I began my rehab under Dr. Kinker with her crew Darcy, Dana, Amy and a wonderful lady named Pat who came to my room to craft, which really helped lift my spirits. Darcy and Dana helped me regain some physical strength, ability to maneuver a wheelchair, and worked with me through an exercise program. They even had me standing up on one leg using the parallel bars. They cheered loudly when I completed the task, and I was so happy I wanted to cry with joy!
I was finally discharged from the hospital on March 29, 2010, and up until one month ago, I was still receiving physical therapy from Penn Avenue Rehab, across the street from Lutheran Hospital. My main physical therapist was Marin and my occupational therapists were Sheila, Lance, and Diane. I also worked with a physical therapy assistant named Kathy who could make me smile; leading me to exceed expectations of what was planned in exercises for the day.
In order to make my transition even easier, Lance, from Penn Avenue Rehab, took pictures of all my medications and loaded them onto the computer. From there, he enlarged the pictures so I could see them as I am legally blind now too. He even took the time to organize them into a binder, which was truly great and very helpful. I would also like to thank Phil at Great Plains Orthotics for the two legs he made for me (I'm on my second one now) that have given me a little piece of my life back.
Currently, I am still taking my dialysis three times a week at Methodist, where they try their very best to make me comfortable. Now I'm just waiting to get a Kidney Transplant so I can get even a little more of my life back. My sons and even my daughter-in-law are all thinking of being my living donor, and this makes me feel so proud.
I can't say enough about Iowa Methodist Medical Center and all the care from everyone, but thank you!