Chrisa Eastburn

Dear friends and family, 

Welcome to our CaringBridge website for Chrisa, where we can share regular updates with you, and you can leave messages for Chrisa and us in one place. Many of you have asked about Chrisa so Brett, Gwen, and Mal will share with you an overview of what has transpired in the past few weeks:

The girl of my dreams: Twenty years ago I fell in love with a girl who looked me straight in the eye when she accepted my invitation for a date, and from that moment on, I knew that the guy without arms and legs was simply not an issue for her! I married the girl of my dreams two years later, a woman whose love is unconditional, whose thirst for adventure that is unquenchable, and who is blessed with a sense of humor that’s very much alive and unpredictable!!

I’m a professional motivational speaker and ‘stand up’ comedian on stage; Chrisa may be on the sidelines, but she’s the partner, the press agent, the business manager, the programmer and scheduler who makes it happen. We’re in love and we’re a team, in marriage, in business, in our community.    

The Big Decision: Strong as she is, one area that has been a problem for Chrisa is the difficulty in taking off the excess body weight that has resulted in 2 bulging discs in her spine, sciatic pain, restless leg syndrome and neuropathy that have caused her so much suffering. After much consideration, Chrisa made the decision to have the bariatric surgery so she could permanently lose enough weight to relieve the pressure on her spine. As is typical of Chrisa, she did all her preparatory homework and read everything she could about the surgery and how to manage it afterwards.

After Chrisa’s surgery in January, she felt much better. In only 3 weeks and a 27-pound weight loss, the pain was diminished in her back and legs. She looked and acted fantastic.

All Was Not Well: At 9pm the night that began this lengthy saga, we took a quarter mile walk and during it she complained that she wasn’t feeling very well with a lot of tightness in her shoulders, neck and back. We went to bed at 11pm, and at 12:30 she woke me up, saying that something was seriously wrong: she was freezing and the muscles in her back, neck and chest were cramping like a Charlie horse. She was visibly shivering, so I gave her a heating pad and massaged her muscles. She laid back down to go to sleep and so did I.

An hour later she woke me and told me she needed to go to the bathroom. She got up, took two steps and fell to her knees. I said, “Chrisa, are you OK?” She told me not to worry; she could crawl to the bathroom, but when she asked me, “Where is it?”(it was right in front of her), her confusion set off the alarm signal in my head. I pointed the way, she went, and I followed. She got on the toilet, and then she fell on her knees with her body draped over the edge of the tub.  I helped her back onto the toilet and wedged myself between her and the tub so she wouldn’t fall back in again. The next moment her head dropped to her chest and her eyes became fixed in a blank stare. I kept calling out to her asking her if she could hear me. At one point I bit her on the arm to see if she was conscious; I got no response.

The 911 call: At that moment I knew I had to call 911, but my cell phone was across the bedroom on the other side of the bed. I tried yelling for SIRI, but that didn’t work either. So, I propped her up as straight as I could, leaning her back, and hightailed it for my phone, and to unlock the front door. Then I scrambled back to the bathroom and saw that she had fallen forward onto the sink (it’s a very small bathroom!). I called 911 on the speakerphone and told the guy what was happening. Shortly after that a police officer arrived and helped me to hold her up until the EMT’s got there. At the hospital in Plymouth, they were unable to determine why she was unconscious, and they told me that she needed to be transferred to SJRMC in Mishawaka.  

Worst Case Scenario: When Chrisa was admitted to the ICU at the Med Center, she was running a temp of 103. After a battery of blood and urine tests, as well as a CT scan and a spinal tap they figured out that she had septicemia (a generalized blood infection) but didn’t know where it had originated.

On the fourth day she began to regain consciousness, but her speech was slurred and unintelligible, except to indicate that she had pain in her head. They performed another spinal tap and CT scan that showed increased intracranial pressure due to a buildup of fluid in the brain, and an internal pocket of infection at the surgical site. This infection had seeped into her blood stream. It was a true medical crisis. The doctors later surmised that it had caused some minor strokes.

After a week in ICU, her condition stabilized and she was transferred to a step down unit for another week. Later she was transferred to Kindred Hospital, for 3 weeks and longer-term rehab. She has been on IV antibiotics which she needs for at least 6 weeks. On Saturday, March 31st, Chrisa was discharged to come home. Although she still has IV’s going, we are blessed with wonderful neighbors, two of which are medical professionals, so we have great back up!  

Words from Mal: Although this unexpected event has changed the course of daily affairs in Chrisa and Brett's life, they have borne it bravely, and she is making gradual and consistent progress. She does have some ongoing residual short-term memory loss that she struggles to cope with. You all know Chrisa - the Energizer Bunny - she loves life and helping people, whether as Brett's business manager or creating gorgeous hairstyles in her salon! Chrisa also has had a close relationship with her many nieces and neighborhood kids and is considered the ‘other mother’ to many of them through the years.

For the past 3 months Chrisa has been out of work and out of action. This will continue for the near future. Her active participation in this partnership is vital to their quality of life! We believe she has the capacity for a full recovery and we are looking forward to that, but it’s going to take some time. Brett has been a strong and stable presence for Chrisa, but he has also had to curtail his motivational speaking engagements to remain at her side.  

We have appreciated the help and prayers of our wonderful neighbors, friends and family during this very difficult time. Several have suggested that we open a CaringBridge site and we are doing so for these reasons:

- send out a weekly update on Chrisa's progress,
- give you a place to share journal entries to Chrisa and us,
- ask for your continued prayers for her full and speedy recovery,
- for those of you who are able and willing, it will give you theopportunity to assist Chrisa and Brett with contributions through GoFundMe to ease their present financial shortfall.

With God’s help and your support, we will get through this and be able to help others with the experience and strength we’ve gained.   

Mal and Kay

P.S. If you have questions or you would like to visit with Chrisa you can call:

Brett at 574-286-3942 or Mal at 574-286-5051.

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