ARDS strikes one family twice… Chris’s ARDS Story
In August, 2006, Chris and his wife, Lena, along with their four daughters were living in Livingston, Tennessee. They had moved there in September, 2005 so that Lena could be closer to he family, Their recent loss of son, James, to ARDS in April, 2005. (Read James’ ARDS story)
Over the past year, Chris building a show truck dedicated to his memory. On August 13, 2006 Chris and his brother in law were planning a BBQ with family and friends to work on the truck. They spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon cleaning up for the BBQ. Chris was in a rush and placed the gas can on the grill table after filling his mower. He forgot it was there.
Before company arrived, they went to light the grill and forgetting about the gasoline, there was an explosion. It was deafening and the flash blinding. Chris got his face in front of his hand just in time but the force from the explosion threw him fifteen feet. Chris’s brother in law was thrown ten feet.
Chris realized he was on fire almost immediately and rolled around on the ground trying to put out the fire. The next half hour was filled with pain and the sound of children screaming. Chris waited to the ambulance but it never came. Finally, Chris’s brother in law drove him to the hospital but because he had burns over 45% of his body, he needed to be air lifted to Vanderbilt hospital.
Chris was taken to the burn unit and sent directly to the hydro bath but within five minutes, he crashed and had to be intubated.
Lena learned that Chris was stable but would need to keep the breathing tube down his throat. Chris was on 80% oxygen, had four medications being administered via IV and was in a drug induced coma.
After five days, doctors told Chris’s family that he had pneumonia, but as days passed, it got worse. Finally, Chris’s family was told he had ARDS. He was given a trach and placed in a rotoprone bed.
After about a week, Chris was removed from the bed, but still on the ventilator, 100% oxygen and in a drug induced coma. I was removed from the bed I was still on the ventilator, 100% oxygen, and in the medicine induced comma. Then events took a terrible turn when Chris’s blood pressure rose and the fear of stoke arose. But finally, his problems were contained and Chris began to improve.
On a Sunday, five and a half weeks after the explosion, Chris awoke to find his parents in his room. The next forty eight hours were terrifying as his family and hospital staff recalled the events of the last several weeks.
Chris was moved out of ICI to a step down unit and his trach was replaced with a smaller one. He learned to walk again and rebuild his strength.. Soon, Chris by-passed in patient rehab to go home with his family.
Currently, Chris still needs to take medication for blood pressure and cholesterol. His vocal chords are damaged. He spent five weeks in physical therapy.
Chris walks three miles a day and had gone back to school to get a degree.
Chris is amazed at how this syndrome, ARDS, which he never heard of before, has struck his family twice, once with the loss of his precious son and a second time striking him down, even if only temporarily.