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Where do we begin here? For two weeks prior to the incident, Christina had been complaining about shortness of breath, feeling winded by even the slightest movements such as standing up, and simply not having any energy. She would try to sleep sitting up in a chair because laying down was too uncomfortable and she wasn’t able to breath properly. Her blood pressure was out of control as well. She even stopped smoking in hopes of feeling better.
On Sunday April 8th, 2018 at 4:29pm, our lives would be forever changed. Christina was found at home by her son Trevor. She had suffered a full cardiac arrest. He was able to perform CPR until the paramedics arrived and quickly took over. We will never know how long she went without oxygen before Trevor found her, but thank goodness he did! She was immediately brought to the U of M Medical Center. They have the ECMO life support machine which removes blood from your body, oxygens it and pumps it back in. This also required them to lower her body temperature to 93 degrees to prevent any further brain damage. Only a couple of hospitals in MN have this machine. She wouldn’t be here without it. The team of doctors found nothing to cause the cardiac arrest, they said it could have been a virus. This can happen to anyone at anytime with no regard to age and has no warning signs, unlike a heart attack.
The first week was touch and go. She was on every form of life support and her kidneys were starting to shut down (which is typical in cardiac arrest patients).
When she arrived at the U, her heart was functioning at 5%, after ECMO, her heart came up to 27%, although her blood pressure would fluctuate up and down. It would spike way up when we talked to her. Her heart slowly got stronger and the kidneys also started showing improvement as well. She had a CAT Scan and a few days later an MRI, which showed a few spots they called watershed something. They won't know what that will result in until she is responsive.
The second week she remained in a coma making good progress. All organs were functioning on their own. They turned the ventilator off for 8 hours a day and allowed her lungs to work on their own, so that was a good sign!
The third week she was off all life support with the exception of a ventilator. The ventilator is needed until she regains consciousness but can’t be in for longer than three weeks, so she was given a tracheotomy for long term, as she is not able to swallow on her own.
The fourth week she was deemed medically stable and transferred from the ICU at the U of M, to Bethesda Rehabilitation Hospital.
Christina is still in an unconscious state (coma) and isn’t responding to commands. And due to the lack of oxygen to her brain during that afternoon on April 8th, she is now being treated as a brain injury patient. She does open her eyes and we think she can hear us, but like we already mentioned, she doesn't respond to commands. They told us that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it will take time. We hope and pray she gets better, she has come a long way already! She recently celebrated her 40th birthday, she’s so young still and the Drs say that she has age on her side!