Karen’s Story

Site created on January 9, 2020

It's with a heavy heart that we create this Caring Bridge for our mom.  It all started about 5 weeks ago. Mom scheduled a pretty standard surgical procedure where she had to stay in the hospital for 1 day before being released.  For those of you that didn’t know...mom decided to make some life-altering changes in her life about 5 years ago by having some surgeries to lose the weight she carried for years.  Since that time my mom blossomed into a new woman where the majority of her health issues disappeared with the weight. We all thought that this procedure would be the last one where she could finally just relax and enjoy her 70s and beyond.  However...after she got home she was just really tired and a little different compared to all the other times she came home after surgery. She just didn’t feel right and after about 7 days she went back into the hospital to learn that her gallbladder was inflamed and needed another surgery to have that removed.  

As we all know, two surgeries are a lot for anyone to endure...let alone someone that is in their 70s.  When she was released from the hospital the second time we thought that she would power through like she normally does...but again was really sore, a little punkish, and just tired from being poked and prodded.  She had a slight temperature when she was at home but was taking antibiotics from what they thought was a slight urinary tract infection. Again...we just thought with a little bit of rest and time she would start to feel better.  Well after 3 days at home she really started to feel bad...especially having a really hard time breathing. At that time we took her back to the hospital where she was immediately diagnosed with severe pneumonia in both lungs, which led to sepsis and septic shock affecting multiple organs including her heart, lungs, and kidneys.  

The hospital staff at Silver Cross Hospital was very surprised that she was in the condition she was in after just seeing her a few days before.  They were able to immediately start to treat her for the infection but she was struggling so hard to breathe from pneumonia that they had to put her under sedation and intubate her.  Over the course of 17 days while sedated and intubated in the ICU at Silver Cross Hospital...they were able to treat pneumonia and sepsis...but ultimately her heart, kidneys, and lungs were majorly impacted.  After initially thinking that she might have had a heart attack that was leading to congestive heart failure...they fell on stress-induced cardiomyopathy or myocarditis that caused her heart to swell and not function properly.  This then directly impacted the lungs with pulmonary congestion and additional strain on her kidney function.  

At this time we were coming to a crossroads about her treatment.  She could no longer be intubated and would have had to get a tracheotomy to give her more time to try and heal.  They lowered her sedation and let her know what exactly was going on with her. It was ultimately mom that made the decision that instead of risking further interventions and an incredibly hard/ long recovery with no guarantees of improvement or good quality of life, she made the brave decision to stop any additional treatment.  The day she made that decision, strangely enough, turned out to be a beautiful day. She wasn’t as sedated and was way more aware and relaxed. So much so that the 3 of us kids, her daughters-in-law, sister, brothers, nieces, and nephews were able to talk to her, laugh with her, and cry with her. Mom even rolled her eyes at us when we told her how beautiful she looked and teased her a little. 

Mom is now in hospice of her own choice and resting comfortably in her own home waiting to take the last journey in her life.  

So...if you’re reading this you know exactly who Karen Ann (Lloyd) Gutrich is.  She’s been known by many names….Bear, Lloydy, Momma Gut, and Nama to name a few.  She is the world’s best mother, grandmother (aka nama), sister, aunt, friend, and overall person that anyone could ever know!!!  She’s impacted so many people over her life and makes delivering this message even that much harder. But just like we celebrate the birth of a new child as they begin their life, let’s all celebrate having had the last 70 years with our mom and remember all the great times we’ve all had with her.

We love her very much and words cannot express how much we will miss her!

Sincerely, 

Mary Kay, Kris & Jody, and Kory & Rae.

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