Julianna, a wife, mother and dedicated teacher of 19 years was living a happy, healthy life with her family until a sudden illness left her fighting for survival. After having flu-like symptoms this New Year’s Eve, the very next day she dramatically deteriorated into septic shock, suffering two cardiac arrests and multiple systemic organ failure, needing full life support! After weeks of fighting hard for her life, Julianna awoke with severe damage to her hands and feet and had to undergo surgery to amputate both of her legs below the knee and will lose most of her fingers. “How did I go to sleep with flu and wake up to be told they are cutting my feet off?”
Julianna's life has suddenly taken a very different path and she is now completely dependent on 1:1 care to perform basic tasks. Her husband has already started adapting their home, but the costs of this building project, prosthetics and other adaptive equipment are daunting.
We, Julianna’s friends and family, are raising funds to help her regain her independence and build a new 'normal'. Julianna is a positive, resilient and determined individual who has always worked hard, contributed much and inspired many, and we want to now support her in her journey toward recovery. Thank you for any help you can provide.
Who is Julianna?
Until 1st January 2023, Julianna led a happy, healthy and busy life, loving nothing more than sharing walks on the local beaches and coastal paths near her Pembrokeshire home with her much-loved family - husband Tim, children Emilia (14) & William (11) and two dogs, Lotty & Monty.
A dedicated and popular teacher and talented musician, Julianna has passed on her love of learning. Since becoming a teacher 19 years ago in Aylesbury, Julianna has touched the lives of many hundreds of children throughout her career; devoting the last 10 years to her work within the rural school of Llanmiloe in South Wales, where she was greatly encouraged to see their student numbers rise and worked relentlessly to provide an excellent service for the local community. She also thrived in her role as Community Governor at the local Tavernspite School.
Energetically finishing a busy Christmas school term on 23rd December, Julianna developed a ‘cold’ over the festive holidays, which then developed rapidly into flu-like symptoms on New Year's Eve. On New Year's Day, and despite medical advice to just keep monitoring her at home, Tim made the call to the ambulance service which was to save her life!
The ambulance arrived within just 5 minutes, at the very point that doctors later described Julianna as “falling over a cliff edge!”. The rapid response of the ambulance crew and their skilled work on Julianna as she was blue-lighted to nearby Withybush Hospital was crucial. Julianna deteriorated dramatically with septic shock, suffering two cardiac arrests and multiple organ failure and was quickly placed on life support under heavy sedation. A diagnosis of sepsis resulting from an aggressive form of pneumonia was confirmed and we were warned that she may not survive the night!
The pneumonia was caused by a combination of both invasive Strep A and Influenza, resulting in a level of sickness that several experienced ICU nurses said they had never seen anyone manage to recover from before. The amazing medical team at Withybush fought extremely hard for Julianna; she was so poorly that they gave her everything they possibly could to keep her alive during that first 48 hours and we are extremely grateful for their commitment, hard work and expertise.
On the 18th January 2023, after nearly 3 weeks on a ventilator, the doctors were literally dancing around her bed and down the corridor, when after lowering her sedation, they trialled her off the ventilator and to their surprise, she could breathe by herself and even started quietly speaking (negating the need for her planned tracheostomy).
Julianna awoke with no long-term brain damage, and she has steadily overcome the concerns with her heart, breathing and blood pressure, with her kidneys continuing to improve daily and being recently removed from the dialysis machine. Put back on the ventilator when she contracted pneumonia for a second time and undergoing emergency surgery to repair a bleeding stomach ulcer, Julianna has continued to fight significant daily battles and simply amazes us with her positive and unwavering resilience, which has been inspirational.
Unfortunately, the long-term consequences of this condition have been severe. An unavoidable result of the sepsis, coupled with the aggressive life-saving treatment she required, has compromised both Julianna’s hands and feet. Julianna was transferred to Morriston Hospital in Swansea to access the additional specialist care she required. On 16th February 2023, Julianna had surgery to amputate both of her legs below the knee. Her hands have also sadly been significantly damaged and she is likely to lose the majority of her fingers, although surgery on these has been delayed to allow the maximum healing possible. Her new disabilities will prevent Julianna from continuing with her current role as a teacher for the foreseeable future and compromise her abilities as a pianist.
Julianna has now returned to Withybush Hospital, where she has spent 66 days in ICU to date (every day of this year so far!). Currently, she is unable to use her arms and is completely dependent on 1:1 care to ensure all her basic needs, including feeding. Being at hospital closer to home again is really helpful, not least for daily visits from her family, for whom this situation has been understandably traumatic.
The focus now is on getting Julianna home and supporting her long-term rehabilitation and recovery. As a double amputee and with limited use of her hands, life for both Julianna & her family has now taken a very different path. Julianna will walk again with the use of prosthetics, of that we have no doubt. She will also overcome the challenges with her hands, adapting to find new ways of achieving what she needs to do. She is a hugely capable, positive and determined individual, whose independent “bring it on” attitude will equip her well for the trials ahead. She has been an inspiration to so many over these past months, as she has resiliently overcome daily hurdles in her health; her smile says so much as she sends out video messages to update friends and family of her progress.
Our Fundraiser Hopes
Our goal is to help Julianna reach her maximum recovery potential. Her husband, Tim, has needed to already start some major work on their home himself, to ensure that it is both suitable for her to return to in the short term and adapted for her long-term needs.
Julianna needs a space within which she can do more than simply manage, but in which she is able to thrive and enjoy time alongside her family in the future.
There will be much equipment that Julianna will need to allow her to live independently, imminently including prosthetics. The aim of this fundraiser is to support her in this journey and help enable her to push forwards in her recovery.
We cannot thank the medical teams enough for their outstanding care, especially the ambulance crew and ICU team at Withybush, whose skill, compassion, dedication and professionalism have kept us all afloat, not just Julianna!
Thank you also to all the family and friends from across the globe who have been supporting us all in different ways throughout this difficult time and to all those, many of whom we’ve not even met, who have been praying fervently for Julianna's healing and sending best wishes. You are all very much appreciated. But most of all, thank you Julianna, for being such an inspirational and strong wife, mother, daughter, sister, family member and friend. We are so proud of everything you are and will be in the future.
For those of you that can support us in our fundraising efforts, thank you also for this practical support, it will make a difference.
Please share Julianna's story and we will keep you updated on her progress.
Warmest regards, from the friends and family of Julianna. x