As many of you know, Carrie was rushed to the hospital on the afternoon of October 9th after being found unresponsive in her car and without a pulse. Suspecting she was not feeling well, Carrie had pulled to the side of the road and placed her foot on the brake. Upon arriving at the scene, police discovered her car was still locked, but the officer broke a window and started CPR. Paramedics quickly arrived and had to shock her heart three times before it returned to a normal rhythm. She was immediately transported to the hospital to undergo therapeutic hypothermia treatment.
After two weeks in the ICU and Heart Center at Fairview Southdale Hospital, Carrie was released to the Regions Hospital Rehabilitation Center in St. Paul, with the diagnosis of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), anoxic brain injury (lack of oxygen to the brain), and deconditioning (loss of muscle, etc). With a shiny new defibrillator and 5 days of intense rehabbing for speech, physical and occupational therapy, Carrie returned home for a very happy Halloween!
However, the journey isn't over! This is the time we need to rally together to help Carrie reach her goals of a full recovery and getting back to normalcy and ease in her life.
We are so fortunate Carrie is such a fighter, and are so grateful for the amazing community of family and friends who have supported her and her family through this journey. The prayers, meals, driving her around and every good thought of healing has helped get us through an incredibly scary time.
Although Carrie looks like her old self, her healing journey will take time and patience. The survival rate for SCA is between 5 and 12% in the US, depending on how prevalent CPR and AED training are within each state, and how quickly a victim of SCA is treated by witnesses. Most survivors have anoxic/hypoxic brain injuries due to lack of oxygen to the brain during the event, which range from mild to severe (vegetative state). In addition, being on a ventilator in the hospital can contribute to this oxygen deficiency as the machine does not distribute oxygen as efficiently as the body. In Carrie's case, she was without oxygen for up to 12 minutes and then on a vent for 8 days.
Carrie is extremely lucky her anoxic brain injury appears to be mild. She does not remember the event or the few weeks following it. Now she is trying to adjust to fatigue – that can be physical, mental, or emotional – which surprises her from time to time. Carrie is also finding she has a difficult time multi-tasking, with short-term memory, and these are exasperated when she is fatigued.
Dave stayed by Carrie’s side for three weeks during her stay at Fairview. If a doctor came when he was gone, he made sure he had them come back so he could understand, and help Carrie understand what tests and treatments they were doing and why. Now, he is attending doctor’s appointments with her since she doesn’t remember what was told to her during that time. Many of these appointments are at the beginning or end of the day, so he’s not missing as much work now. They are very appreciative of those giving her rides for other appointments!
Carrie has recently started cardiac rehab to gain strength and stamina due to deconditioning from being in the hospital for so long. A typical course of rehab lasts 12 weeks. Thankfully, her cognition and memory are doing well enough that she may not need more of the other types of therapies. We are crossing our fingers! They know time and patience is what will help most for the mental, physical and emotional fatigue from the brain injury.
Their lives are going through quite a change as Carrie and Dave and the boys find her “new normal.” Carrie and Dave are also dealing with the anxiety of what happened, what could happen again, and how to manage her health going forward. She is seeing her mental health therapist weekly at this point to help ease her through these transitions. Noah and Alex are doing well now, but have a therapist they know if things become difficult for them again.
Before leaving the hospital and rehab for home, the doctors advised Carrie that the biggest obstacle toward her recovery is going to be her brain injury. This next phase will take at least a year, meaning we don't have a target date for when Carrie will be able to go back to work, or if she will be able to return to her job at all. Doctors have not approved her to start working at this time, but Carrie is hopeful that she can start with a couple hours a day mid-January with the hope that starting small will help with the exhaustion. But, we won't know how much is too much, or how soon is too soon, until she tries.
So here I am, turning to all of you, Carrie, Dave, Noah & Alex's amazing community, to all pitch in and lend a hand in helping the Mortensens as we continue on this journey to recovery! The money raised from this GoFundMe will be used to cover the medical deductibles ($7,300 for 2017 and at least another $7,300 for 2018), and it will help buffer the missed pay from Dave's time off while Carrie was in the hospital, as well as Carrie's absence from work since the incident.
And don't forget to sign up for Carrie's Caring Bridge so you can follow along with updates on her progress! You can send her words of encouragement along the way, or notes of your favorite memories together!
Thank you all for your support, kindness and offers to help. We can't thank you enough. <3
(Carrie's eldest niece)
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- Christina Snow
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