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Life-threatening Pancreatitis

By CHI Health Patient Stories December 02, 2011 Posted in: Patient Stories

Sharan Bryson realized how much she wanted to live when she came close to dying.

"God is just so awesome – he spared my life just to be here today," Sharan says.

Just before Thanksgiving 2010, Sharan started to have trouble breathing. Her instincts as a nurse kicked in – she knew she needed to get to the hospital.

"The last thing I remember is my mother driving me to the Immanuel ER," she recalls.

She got there just in time. Sharan soon passed out and the next thing her mother knew, the hospital was calling a Code Blue – Sharan needed resuscitating.

"The doctor said, ‘I don't believe this – your pH balance is off the charts," her mom, Lanette Moore, says.

Sharan, it turns out, had acute pancreatitis. Her pancreas was so inflamed that her body had shut down. The doctor said it was like she had battery acid running through her veins.

The next couple of months were like a blur to Sharan. When she finally came to, she was in a nursing home, unable to move and wondering what happened.

The medicine needed to save Sharan's life, ended up changing it forever. She lost her left leg below the knee and all but one toe on the right foot. She had a tracheotomy, an ulcer on her backside and a hole in the back of her head. Her hands were peeling and a piece of her heel was gone. Alegent Health Physiatrist Aishwarya Patil, M.D., had her doubts.

"When Sharan came in [for acute rehabilitation], she couldn't get out of bed on her own," Dr. Patil says. "She needed complete assistance as she was very sick."

"I couldn't brush my teeth," Sharan says. "I couldn't wash my face."

She got that assistance – and more – at Alegent Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Center. A team of rehabilitation specialists went to work helping her get strong again. Beyond her other injuries, Sharan had also lost 40% of her muscle mass due to being bed-ridden for so long. She needed intense therapy – both physical and occupational.

"It's a full day," Sharan says. "It's from about 8:00 in the morning until about 5:00 at night that you are hustling. But they could do whatever they wanted to do to me because I just trusted them. I heard good things about them before I even came here. It was a blessed union between us."

"Just looking at her, it was probably easier to give up on her by some of the healthcare professionals," says Dr. Patil. "It was probably easy. But just by being in the rehab center, we were amazed at how much we could help her."

Aiding therapists this whole time, though, is Sharan. She's an over-achiever, pushing herself beyond what's expected. There's a reason for that – she wants to get her life back. She wants to get back to a mother who never left her side. She wants to get back to a son who became the man of the house in her absence. And she wants to get back to her five-year-old little girl who still needs her mom.

"The hardest thing now is that my left arm doesn't work," Sharan says. "So when she comes to run to me and wants me to hug her, I can't really hold her and give her that good grip like a parent should give their child."

Prayer, hard work and a strong family – both the one she was given and the one she's adopted at Immanuel – have gotten Sharan this far. The next hurdle comes March 4, 2012 – Sharan's birthday. That's the day she plans to walk again.

"They are truly the true meaning of teamwork," Sharan says of her care team. "And I think by March I can do it."

"I think she's going to be able to walk, line dance and go back to work," says Dr. Patil.

God willing.

CHI Health Patient Stories
CHI Health Patient Stories

These blogs were written by CHI Health Patients and their providers.

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