- FFF Advocate:
- Place of Residence:
- Montpelier, Indiana
- 41 years old, 2016
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Jewel was hospitalized for over three months with complications of H1N1 flu.
Jewel’s Flu Illness
Jewel was a healthy 41-year-old wife, mother, and grandmother. In late March of 2016, Jewel and her husband, Jason, were both sick. She was diagnosed with acute bronchitis and given antibiotics at her local urgent care on March 25, 2016. Two days later, on Easter Sunday, her illness worsened and she went to her local emergency department. Her flu test was negative, so she was given treatment for bronchitis and sent home.
Only two days later, on March 29th, her condition deteriorated and she returned to the hospital. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to the hospital for treatment due to her low oxygen saturation, fever, and difficulty breathing. After two days of standard treatment, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for additional care.
Based on her condition in the ICU, the medical staff quickly decided that Jewel needed to be transferred to a larger medical facility. The next day, she was transferred to Fort Wayne Lutheran Hospital. There, the medical team decided it would be best to place her in a rotating hospital bed that would turn her into a prone position to improve her breathing capabilities. She was intubated and put into a medically-induced coma, but her condition was still dire. When she didn’t get better, the team at Fort Wayne Lutheran transferred her care to the ICU at University of Michigan as a last-resort option. The staff told Jewel’s family that based on her condition she was not likely to survive despite their life-saving efforts.
At the University of Michigan, the medical staff took a sample from Jewel’s lungs which showed that she had been suffering from complications of H1N1 influenza. This was the first time she was diagnosed with flu. Over the next few weeks, she received many treatments, including inserting a tracheostomy tube through her windpipe to improve her breathing. Slowly, over the course of seven weeks at the University of Michigan, she began to improve.
After over two months of care, Jewel was strong enough to move to a hospital closer to home for physical and occupational therapy. This rehabilitation lasted until the beginning of July when her tracheostomy tube was removed 10 weeks after it was initially placed and she was finally discharged to home. In total, she was hospitalized for over three months.
To this day, Jewel still suffers complications from her flu illness. She often experiences shortness of breath and requires oxygen at night when laying down in bed. Additionally, after spending three months in five different hospitals, she has anxiety about being around people who are visibly sick and being in enclosed spaces.
Lesson Learned: Get An Annual Flu Vaccination
After surviving the flu and its severe complications, Jewel and her family have become advocates of annual flu vaccination. She had not been vaccinated against the flu prior to becoming ill because she was unaware of how severe flu can be. Now, she knows that flu does not discriminate and can rapidly cause a major, life-threatening illness.
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