My name is Stephenie Rodriguez, and I am on a mission to impact one billion lives by 2025 by empowering women and vulnerable people to travel and commute better and safer. To deliver on this mission, I founded JOZU for WOMEN and developed the free WanderSafe smartphone app and a discreet non-violent personal safety device that pairs with the app. We launched WanderSafe on October 2, 2018, and began to see users in 52 countries.
In September 2019, I went to Lagos Nigeria, and then to New Delhi for HIVE India. Two weeks later after departing Nigeria, I collapsed and fell into a coma in the Boston Logan Airport and was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where I was diagnosed with fatal Cerebral Malaria and a secondary complication, Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock.
I spent almost 2 weeks in a coma fighting for my life. In the coma, doctors had to administer Vassopressor drugs to me to keep my heart beating and dialysis to keep me alive while the medicine sent up from the Center for Disease Control (the CDC) began to fight this parasite that was intent on killing me. The Vassopressors could not be administered without making my family aware of the potential complications and their permission to proceed. Three times in the coma my family was told I was close to death and they needed to say final goodbyes. Three times I fought back against the evil parasite. The doctors were instructed by my family to do what they must to save my life. The Vassopressers were administered at 100% -- where normally allowances were 60%. You can read more about this and the medical commentary if you search an article in the Sydney Morning Herald from October 2019.
I have now been on a recovery journey that included more than 250 days in hospitals on 2 continents and had a total of 28 operations on my feet and hands in 2020.
Presently, I am still wheelchair-bound, having to rehabilitate and rebuild my body with every bit of the resources currently available in modern medicine. Getting better and stronger has had to become my primary daily focus. To help me recondition my body, I have a robust daily routine of physiotherapy, exercise physiology/pilates reformer, and aqua training as those exercises are non-weight bearing.
As of now, on March 10, 2021, doctors are giving me very limited options to walk again. The only choice involves double amputations of both feet above the ankles, with osseointegration surgery where a titanium shaft will be grafted to my tibia permanently. Then and only once the wounds on the limbs are fully closed and healed, will I be able to receive prosthetic ankles and feet, and learn to walk again. I will spend 2 weeks in Macquarie University Hospital then a further 6 - 8 weeks in a rehabilitation hospital where I will learn to walk with prosthetics. As I had a pretty active lifestyle and wish to return to a new version of normal, I pray this surgery will give me back my freedom to walk, stand up paddleboard, grocery shop and drive, dance salsa, and be a normal participant in daily life. Being wheelchair-bound has humbled and frustrated me. Osseointegration Surgery and prosthetics are VERY EXPENSIVE. You can learn more about this type of surgery and Dr Munjed Al Muderis here http://www.osseointegration.org
It's been now a year and 161 days since I was injured and doctors tell me it will take me 4 years before I am better. I am so grateful and thankful for all of you who have and continue to support me through this healing and restoration journey.
How You Can Help:
1. Remember me in your prayers and send good vibes
2. You can donate to my recovery fund so that I can go through with surgery, allied health care services, and prosthetics.
You can reach out to me at http://instagram.com/DigitalGodess
My son and I hanging out together
- Roxana C
- Mark Taylor
- Jesus Rodriguez
- Luis Cabrera
- Margaret Finn
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