ARDS Wilma Jean Cochran, the World is a Poorer Place… Feb 27, 1943 – Jan 18, 2005
On May 25, 2004, Wilma, who is known by her middle name, Jean, went into the hospital for a successful heart valve surgery. Though she was born in Sunnyside, Georgia, she has lived in Mobile, Alabama for most of her life. After only a couple of days after the surgery, Jean took a turn for the worse, and one of her nurses mentioned she had ARDS and was being put on a vent. Rod, his two brothers and their father, Donald G. Cochran Sr., had no idea what this meant. Jean’s doctors never used the term ARDS nor did they discuss what this meant to the family.
However, Jean’s family did some research and learned just how serious this diagnosis was. Jean was on the vent and in a coma in the ICU for months. In July, 2004, Donald called and told his sons that their mother was going downhill very fast; doctors had told him that she had less than 1% chance to make it.
The doctors recommended that they pull the vent and let Jean pass. Rod and his brothers wanted more information before any decision was made.
The three went to the hospital at 5:00 AM to catch Jean’s doctor making his rounds. They cornered him, and said they needed more information. The doctor told them the same information that he had told their father. He said he was 99.9% sure Jean would not survive.
Rod and his brothers agreed that as long as there was some chance, some hope, they would not pull the vent. And over the next four months, Jean got better and better! She was moved to another hospital and on Thanksgiving Day, to Rod’s surprise, she was sitting up in her hospital bed, with no vent, talking up a storm!! It was the best Thanksgiving ever! Jean had been on the vent from May 27, 2004, until November 16, 2004.
Jean continued to do well over the next month. But then the insurance company said they would not pay for her to stay in the hospital any longer, even though her doctor, the hospital, and her therapist recommended that she remain in the hospital.
Without any other choice, Jean came home the day before Christmas. The entire family was together on Christmas and it was wonderful. Jean was more alive than Rod has ever seen her! She had the biggest smile on her face the entire time and never stopped talking.
However, after the holidays, Jean went down hill fast. Two weeks after being sent home by the insurance company, she was admitted to the ER with rapid breathing. After that, she got a blood clot in her lungs and she nose dived real quick. In a little more than 24 hours, she was gone. The whole family was with her again, this time to say their ‘good-byes.’
Jean was sixty-one years old and beautiful. Rod says, “I really believe her time to go was several months ago, and God heard our prayers and gave us this extra time with her at Christmas.”
Jean passed away on Tuesday, January 18, 2005.
Although Rod lost his mother only recently, he says that he believes education about ARDS is very important and if he can help just one family get through this and be informed, it is worth it!