Q. How is your condition now? Do you feel you have improved a lot from December?
A. My overall condition improves a little bit every day. My kidney function is much better but not quite back to normal levels. The infection in my joints (mostly my knees) is being treated with intravenous antibiotics. I am able to get out of bed with assistance and walk with a walker.
My biggest challenge is that I don't have much endurance, and sometimes I get tired rather quickly. Considering my condition when I was flown to Denver on Dec. 9, I feel very blessed to even be here. I think I have made great strides, but I also know that I have more work to do before I am completely recovered.
Q. What happened -- when did you originally get sick, and what chain of events took place from there?
When I was in Colorado Springs for the first week of December attending the Colorado Counties Inc. Winter Conference and the Rural Consortium Workforce Board meeting, I became ill with what I thought was the flu: chills, nausea, etc. I was able to drive home that Friday, and I spent the weekend dealing with what I thought were flu symptoms. By Monday morning I was pretty weak, and by Tuesday, I could not get out of bed. That is when I called the Oak Creek ambulance, and they transported me to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
At YVMC, many tests were conducted to determine the cause of my problems. My family physician, Dr. Mark MacCaulley, decided very quickly that I needed to be flown to Denver where kidney and infectious disease specialists could begin immediate treatment for my kidney failure and infection. I will be forever indebted to Dr. MacCaully and all the other medical professionals in Steamboat Springs for their decisive action. The YVMC Air Ambulance flew me to Centennial Airport in Denver, and I was then transported via helicopter to Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.
Once again, I cannot say enough about how fortunate we are to have the air ambulance service in the Yampa Valley, as well as the caring, dedicated professionals that work for that service.
My first 10 days in Denver were spent in the intensive care unit, where I received dialysis treatments for my kidneys, and underwent surgery to clean some of the infection out of my knees and right hip. I was then transferred to a post-surgical floor for 11 days. I was then moved to the rehabilitation unit, where I have been since.
Q. What are you health goals for improving? When would you like to be back in Routt County?
A. My health goals for improvement are:
To have my kidney function return to normal. The only dietary restriction I have is to limit my salt intake.
Eradicate the joint infection. I'm currently receiving IV antibiotics. At some point, my knee implants will have to be replaced, not only because of the damage that has been done to them, but also because sometimes that is the only way to get rid of all of the infection.
Continue with rehabilitation to get my strength and mobility back. I receive two physical therapy and two occupational therapy treatments each day.
Determine an appropriate long-term medication for my rheumatoid arthritis.
Become more health-conscious about my diet and exercise.
Q. How are you able to work from the Denver hospital? Are you using phones, computers, faxes? What's difficult about working long distance? What are you most missing about your work right now?
A. I continue to work from my room here as time allows.
My primary objective has to be my complete recovery, so that has to come first. I am able to receive faxes here from the commissioners' office on a limited basis. Dan Ellison and Doug Monger use that method when they are working on something that is time-sensitive, so that we can arrange to have a discussion via conference call.
My husband, Ron, comes down to see me every weekend, and he picks up the commissioners' agenda packets and other nontime sensitive information that has been collected for me at the office. I am then able to review the agenda and determine which items I would like to participate in. If the time that those items occur on the agenda don't interfere with my therapy, Dan and Doug call me on the speaker phone. This method has worked pretty well, but there are times when I haven't been able to be a part of some discussions and updates that are important to me.
I do have a laptop computer, but right now it would be too difficult for me to set it up and use it because of my limitations on mobility. However, I am available by phone. The direct number to my room is (303) 839-6507. The best time to call is in the late afternoon or evening.
Q. What has been most helpful to your improvement?
A. The things that have been most important to my improvement are staying focused on my treatment goals, maintaining a positive attitude, getting enough rest, and feeling all the support and prayers from family, friends and Routt County residents.
Q. What would you like to say to Routt County residents who have supported you through this?
A. I am so appreciative of all the support, well-wishes and prayers that are coming to me from Routt County residents. It is uplifting, and sometimes, overwhelming to read the cards and letters that are being sent to me. The love that flows out of them keeps me going from day to day. A simple "thank you" doesn't seem quite adequate for the gratitude I feel.