John Manikowski says that “It” all started with back surgery–which was, in the end, successful–at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, in western Massachusetts. On May 9, 2001, at the age of fifty-eight, John had his surgery; three days later, he was unconscious. After testing John for pneumonia, Legionnaire’s Disease, and numerous other maladies, John was diagnosed with ARDS (John did not recall anything for the next two months, due to his medically induced coma).
John was put into a drug induced coma, intubated, put on a ventilator in ICU and was eventually helicoptered out to Boston, to Massachusetts General Hospital where he remained in ICU for another six weeks. His lung biopsy, which occurred soon after arriving, from which came the diagnosis of BOOP (Brochiolitis Obliterans Organizing Pneumonia), the BOOP reaction being part of the ARDS resolution process.
John spent four more weeks at MGH and then underwent rehabilitation for a month, after losing over seventy pounds. He was released in late August, over four months later.
But John had developed a massive bedsore on his right buttocks which took ten months to heal. One year later, he returned to MGH for aortic aneurysm surgery, which had been inadvertently discovered through a CAT scan. Compared to the past year, that surgery was uneventful–but necessary. Without it, the deadly aneurysm was continuing to grow and would likely have quietly burst, soon. Ironically, being in the hospital and having that CAT scan quite possibly saved John’s life. That, and of course, the many positive thoughts of friends and relatives.
John’s message to others: “If you are a survivor, be grateful you made it; if you are a friend or relative, be aware how much your friend needs you and your thoughts. I continue to suffer some after effects of my horrors but…they are nothing if inspiring, leaving me with many reminders and a completely new perspective: how much man can and will endure, and with the right encouragement–either from within or from others.”