Sue Moul, ARDS Survivor Times Two
Sue Moul survived two ARDS episodes. Until she got involved in the ARDS discussion forum, and started doing more reading, she did not realize how lucky, or blessed she has been.
Sue’s first episode began February 4, 2005. She woke up having some wheezing and felt a little short of breath. She and her husband had been doing some remodeling of her house and thought it was due to the dust. She called her PCP, who referred her to a walk in clinic to get some breathing treatments. The treatments did not help. The next thing Sue remembers was being placed in the back of an EMS unit for transfer to a large University Hospital. That was also the last thing she remembers.
Sue was the director of nurses for a large county jail, so they immediately put her in reverse isolation to rule out Tuberculosis. They also did a number of biopsies and cultures; all were negative. Sue was in a drug induced coma for eighteen day, on a ventilator. She was restrained because movement caused agitation; Sue would pull at all the tubes.
She also received antibiotics and mega steriods. Slowly the “white out” began to improve. Mentally, Sue was frustrated because her my brain did not remember about 2 months beforehand. She was depressed and confused. Finally the doctors suggested that they “reorient” Sue to what had happened to her. But she did not believe her husband for several days. Sue was in outpatient PT/OT until April 2005.
She was lucky that she had not suffered lung scarring; the therapy was mainly for her de conditioned muscles. Sue used a CPAP with O2 due to sleep apnea at night and on occasion used inhalers for asthma.
Sue developed diabetes during her ARDS episode. Then she had to have a hip replacement due to necrosis of her left hip bone in July 2006; she sought psychiatric help for the depression and was diagnosed with PTSD. But the meds and counseling were helping. Sue retired, got disability and was finally getting on with her life.
On September 14, 2007, Sue and her husband went camping. Sue was having a little epigastric pain but thought that it was her usual GERD. At 1am, Sue woke up her husband and told him to take her to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing. They were 57 miles off of a 2 lane country road, from the nearest town with a small community hospital. As they pulled out of the park, Sue told her husband to call EMS. The EMS unit met them about 20 miles outside of the town. The doctor told Sue’s husband they were not equipped to handle the seriousness of her condition, and did not know if she would survive or tolerate a transfer.
Sue’s son, who works full time with the Air Force, and is responsible for evacuating wounded soldiers, started making calls to doctors and hospitals and arranged for Sue to be air evaced back to San Antonio, Texas.
This time, Sue was intubated for fourteen days. She was out of the hospital six days when she told her husband to get her to the ER. She was short of breath, but worse, in a complete panic and had not slept in three days. She was afraid that if she went to sleep, she would not wake up.
Sue got something to help her sleep and the panic feeling eased somewhat.
Sue’s first follow up appointment was on October 10, 2007, and the pulmonary doctor was amazed that her lungs were almost completely clear. Sue’s lung function is “pretty good”. Though she is not near 100% physically or mentally, her memory is getting a little better every day. She begins PT on October 22, 2007. She can walk but not too far. Sue knows that she cannot live life afraid to do anything.
She is not sure why she survived but she knows that there must be some reason. But Sue does know that recovery would not be possible without her family who was by her side during her hospitalization and during her recovery.
Sue lives with her husband in San Antonio, Texas and is in the process of recovery. She would love to connect with others.