Sunday, February 02, 2014

Rest in Peace, Wendy

Late Thursday morning we heard the sad, sad news that our cousin-in-law, Wendy, had died of complications from H1N1 flu. She was 30 years old and otherwise in perfect health.

Wendy came down with flu about a week before Christmas and by Christmas Eve was on a ventilator. Shortly afterwards she was transferred to a hospital in Atlanta and put on ECMO. From there, Wendy seemed to rally. Her sedation was reduced; she was able to sit, speak, joke around. She swore she'd get a flu shot next year.

Wendy's lungs remained cloudy and weak. She came down with pneumonia and then developed a MRSA infection in her trach site. Doctors began discussing a lung transplant. And then other organs began failing.

I met Wendy just once, at her wedding three years ago. Dave took the boys to visit Wendy and her husband, Aaron, a while back. Both Wendy and Aaron made a huge impression on the boys, especially on Kolbe, who loved their unique hobbies - Legos and fencing and building armor. Both Wendy and Aaron went out of their way to make the visit memorable.

In honor of Wendy, Aaron is promoting flu shots. He writes on Facebook:
There is one thing that I want everyone to take as Wendy's last wish. Before things got serious enough that she was on a respirator, I told her she was going to be getting a flu shot next year. She easily and vehemently agreed which pleased me to no end. Previously she never would take a damn flu shot because she was afraid that it might "make her sick" . . . and she would point out that since she never seems to get the flu, she must not be susceptible to it  . . .  Wendy spent 6 weeks in the hospital connected to every sort of medical device and pumped full of every drug that could help her. The medical bill will certainly be measured in multiple millions of dollars. However the number of tears shed for her are uncountable. All of this could have been avoided with a simple $20 shot available at any walk in pharmacy office at Walgreens, Publix, CVS, Target, or Walmart. If you don't have a spare $20 then let me know. I'd be honored and rest easier to see to it that you receive a flu shot. 
Aaron, I'll be getting a flu shot.

Rest in peace, Wendy.


claire said...

I'm so sorry about this tragic loss. I'm ashamed to say that even as a nurse, I didn't start getting flu shots till about four years ago. It was my sons's compromised respiratory status that motivated me (and my husband) to start getting them. From now on, we will never miss a year. My heart goes out to your cousin and your family.

Kris said...

Kelly - I'm so, so sorry to hear about your cousin. A very dear friend passed away two years ago, with an almost identical situation. She was also very young - early 30's - and left behind her husband as well. We all get flu shots here - my husband is required by the military, and I have a history of asthma, so I don't take a chance on getting sick. I will keep your whole family in my prayers, especially Aaron.

Kelly Dolin said...

Thank you, Chris and Claire.

Kris, Wendy was at Piedmont Hospital in your neck of the woods.

I haven't pursued a shot out of nothing but sheer laziness. Dave and the kids get one every year.

christinelaennec said...

What a tragic story. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. My husband and I began getting the flu jab winter before this one, as our daughter's health is so poor. We've wondered whether she should get one too, and need to take advice on that. I've heard they can now make the vaccine without mercury, which was a concern of mine.

Kelly Dolin said...

Christine, I found your comment late. Good point about The dafter. Many people who might skip a vaccine go ahead with it for the sake of other people who are immuno-suppressed, something I never thought too much about. Our pediatrician informed us that at least the childhood vaccines no longer have mercury. Not sure about others.

Four of us had H1N1 flu when Ainsley was a newborn. She and I somehow didn't get it. Dave and boys all ended up with 2 or 3 secondary infections. Tim had pneumonia and two bouts of strep throat. I've been fastidious about flu shots for the kids since then. Now I'm going to get one myself.