November of 2014 seemed much like any other for Christina Sullivan. She struggled to hold the attention of her 2nd grade students at Arlington Classics Academy as they tried in vain to contain their ecxitement over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. She was busy herself preparing for her first Thanksgiving after having seperated, and still had shopping to do for the meal she hoped to prepare for her and her 15 year old son Charlie. But she had noticed in the midst of the hectic month that she was retaining water. She mentioned it when she was at her primary care physician, and they decided to run some tests. She got a call from them a few days later that would change her life.
"You're in congestive heart failure, and you need to go to the emergency room as soon as possible," they told her. In shock, she arranged for a substitute teacher for her class, and had a friend drive her to the emergency room of Mansfield Methodist Hospital. She was admitted and an angiogram was quickly ordered. After awaking from this test, she was told that her heart was sick. Very sick. They would need to perform triple bypass surgery, she was told, and soon. The procedure was set for 6:30 the very next morning.
She had not told her family when she was first admitted, because she didn't want to worry them. Now she called them in California, confused and scared. Her mother made arranegments for a flight, but with Thanksgiving in a matter of days, she couldn't get a seat until the day after the surgery. The procedure took place on Tuesday, November 25.
Christina's heart was so sick, that even after the procedure, it struggled to keep her alive. It was decided that a balloon pump needed to be kept in her heart, shouldering the work of pumping her blood so her heart could rest. She was able to breathe only with the help of a ventilator. The heart pump was kept in place for a week and was then able to be removed. Her heart appeared at that point to be working as well as could be expected. But she remained unable to breathe on her own. Each time they tried to remove her from the ventilator, her lungs were unable to give her sufficient oxygen to keep her alive.
It has now been approximately a month since her open heart surgery. She remains able to breate only with the help of a ventilator. This was originally done through tubes inserted down her throat and into her airway. But given the extended period she has needed this support, a tracheotomy had to be performed recently to connect to the ventilator. She has barely been conscious since the procedure. On one occasion she was coherent long enough to hold up two fingers at the request of a nurse, and she smiled for her mother who was talking to her. Doctors are not entirely certain why it has been so difficult to bring her back to consiousness at the times they have tried to wean her form the ventilator, but for now they have ruled out brain damage, after several CT scans and EEG's. Days ago she was moved to a long-term care facility, as she has seen little improvement for weeks.
In the interim of this unexpected tragedy, Christina's income has ceased. Though her family was able to file for medical leave for her, it is unpaid. If she is finally able to be weaned from the ventilator, it is belived her rehab will take 60-90 days at a minimum. It is unlikley she will be able to teach again at all this school year, if she recovers. Her family has had to save what items they could from the house she rented and filled a storage POD with her things, because they are no funds to continue to pay her rent, and her landlord was wholly unmoved by her medical emergency. If she recovers she will have no place to live. She may not have a vehicle, as there is no money to keep up the payments. What little money she did have has been applied by the family to maintain her health insurance at least until the end of her medical leave.
We are asking for help in rebuilding Christina's life. If she can recover, she will have little but the few clothes and irreplaceable family items that were able to be saved. She will need to find housing. She will need a bed and linens. She will need food. It is hoped that her car can be kept for her, but payments need to be made. And then there are the medical bills. Though the full extent of her responsability is not yet known, with a triple bypess surgery and more than a month in intensive care, it will be staggering. Family, friends and coworkers are helping where they can. But this bigger than any of them. No donation is too small (or too large). PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN.
- Bonnie Kenoly
- Carla Davis
- Carla Davis
- Denise McFadden
- Carla Davis
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