This past spring, Juana Rendon went to the ER with complaints of swelling in her legs, hallucinations, labored breathing, altered mental status, and severe hypercapnia. Tests found that Juana had high levels of carbon dioxide and a very low level of oxygen in her blood. She was intubated and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. She was put on a ventilator, or a machine to help her breathe. A pulmonologist found right lower lobe pneumonia and after initial treatments, referred her to Laredo Specialty Hospital (LSH) for weaning off the ventilator. Juana came to the hospital having been diagnosed with respiratory failure with hypoxemia and hypercapnia, hypoventilation syndrome, and pneumonia.
Complications can arise when a patient is intubated for a long time. Therefore, LSH’s medical team worked efficiently to remove Juana from the ventilator as quickly as possible. She was admitted to the hospital’s Respiratory Failure Program, where the medical team, including respiratory therapists, provided the appropriate treatment and critical decision-making to wean her off ventilation after five days.
After a month of not being able to eat or speak, Juana began making progress. A speech therapist worked with Juana to help her with swallowing and speech, while a dietitian made sure her needs were being met nutritionally with meals and fluids. Physical and occupational therapy were also provided to help her progress toward independence, and the nursing staff was available 24/7 to ensure medication monitoring and pain management. A team of pharmacists also worked closely with the physician-led team.
After 4 weeks in the specialty hospital, Juana was referred to Laredo Rehabilitation Hospital (LRH). She was experiencing profound generalized weakness and required comprehensive rehabilitation that included intensive physical therapy.
When admitted to LRH, Juana needed assistance to get in and out of bed, get dressed, and to shower. During her stay, she progressed from eating meals in bed to eating in the cafeteria with her family. She also became more ambulatory, could transfer in and out of a car, and perform other daily tasks like dressing. She was able to walk again with only the assistance of a walker.
Juana says, “Con la ayuda de Dios todo es posible.” (“With the help of God, everything is possible.”) and is very appreciative of the doctor who referred her to the hospitals. She said the healthcare teams (especially Ere and Maribel) motivated her to continue to move forward, as did her children and family. She attributes her success to “her faith in God and not giving up.”
Juana’s future plans are to continue to get better every day and to “leave the walker behind.” She will continue with outpatient therapy at LRH as she continues to gain strength and endurance.