Everyone always says to enjoy every minute and live your life to the fullest because you truly never know what could happen. I was completely unaware of the fears of my fiancé, family and entire medical team in the Intensive Care Unit at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital located in Windsor, Ontario Canada. Together, they hoped I might somehow make it through the sudden turn of events that led me to lying in a deeply sedated coma on one of the strongest life-support machines. My fiancé; Matthew and I had spent the last couple years preparing to get married. Like many young couples, we were completely immersed in putting the final touches on the kitchen of our new home and arranging the last minute details for our wedding of 300 quests.
I had put off seeing a doctor about a lingering cough for a month but when I suddenly at the age of 23 felt severe chest pain and my heart began to race I asked my father to take me to the emergency room. On August 28th, 2008 I was then admitted to the hospital where it was discovered that I had community-acquired pneumonia. Four days later my condition was worsening and I was struggling to breathe. My heart rate was escalating to a rate of 230 beats per minute. My body was being robbed of the ability to take in oxygen because of a life-threatening condition called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
Although I was young and healthy my doctor admits there was a real chance that I might not recover. In order for my brain and other organs to receive the amount of oxygen required to sustain my life, the doctors had to deeply sedate me and enable a life support machine to get enough oxygen into my blood with the hope of getting my lungs functioning again. My parents, sister, and fiancé; spent every moment possible at my bedside and I truly felt them there. The nurses were like angels taking care of me. They patiently educated my family about my vital signs and how ARDS was impacting my body.
Ten days later the antibiotics had run their course, yet my condition had still not improved. My family was pushing thoughts of my wedding out of their mind and was afraid of having to plan my funeral. My doctor then decided to take a new course of action. Since ARDS can be related to inflammation in the lung, he prescribed a course of steroids to see if this treatment might help my lungs heal. Over the next 24 hours my condition gradually improved and my heart rate began returning back to normal. As I was weaned from the medications that was keeping my body still, my mother talked to me and told me how many reply’s had come in the mail and that my wedding dress had come in.
When I finally regained full consciousness my mother told me it was my fiancé; Matthew’s birthday. I immediately started to cry and couldn’t believe how many days had past. My fiancé; definitely got his only birthday wish which was for me to be able to wish him a happy birthday! What exactly enabled me to regain my health is still a mystery according to my doctor. They all call me a true miracle. I was released from the hospital on September 16, 2008. I just feel I had way too much to live for. My recovery was remarkably quick compared to most patients with ARDS.
I was still experiencing some tiredness as my wedding day approached just 5 weeks later, but I knew I was still going to marry the man of my dreams on the very same date we had planned with one added element, I would make a stop at the hospital to thank the entire ICU team for making my new life possible. Our wedding turned out absolutely wonderful and we had the time of our lives.
I will be forever grateful to my doctors and nurses who saved my life and also all my wonderful family and friends who stood by me and my family and constantly prayed for me during this difficult time. We now strongly believe in the power of prayer and that miracles can happen. When I think back I still can’t believe this happened to me, and really makes me think just how precious life really is and not to take one single moment for granted. Live your life to the fullest and enjoy every moment you have together because you never know when it could be your last.