A reason to celebrate

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By: Min Qiao <[email protected]>
Something was wrong. It was a Friday night and she was at an after-party for the football game. But at merely 11 p.m., far earlier than she usually got tired, senior Ann (Annie) Greenberg was ready to turn in.

That night, her suspicions came true when she suffered through a series of cold chills. Then on Saturday, she did her best to follow her normal routine, but by Monday, it was clear that her condition required hospital attention.

“We went to St. Vincent’s Carmel Hospital emergency room, where I was diagnosed with double pneumonia and received, intravenously, two bags of antibiotics and two bags of fluid to combat dehydration,” Annie said. “I was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and confined to bed rest.”

However, after a day of rest, Annie said she still felt as miserable as ever and asked to be taken back to the hospital.

She said that upon arrival at St. Vincent’s, she was swarmed over by about six doctors and nurses, given more IV fluids, put on 100 percent oxygen to get her blood oxygen saturation level up from 32 percent to 95 percent or better.

It never got beyond 88 percent, Soon after, she was admitted to intensive care. “Sometime late that night or maybe that morning, Annie was sedated and put on a ventilator,” Annie’s father, Steve Greenberg, said.

“Along with all this, she also developed sepsis. It essentially poisons your blood and clogs your arteries and whatever antibiotics you are on can’t get through,” he said.

Annie was strapped on to a Roto-bed, a device that kept her mobile through her sedation. She would be moved from back to front and side to side in order to keep the infection from cementing to her lungs. Annie was given Xigris, the drug that would save her life, and as the Xigris took effect, she began to improve.

Finally, eight days later, she was extubated and breathed on her own for the first time in more than a week. Twelve days after Annie was admitted into the hospital, she was wheeled out and taken home.

“It was truly a miracle,” Mr. Greenberg said. “There was a potential for minor or major amputation; there was the possibility of short-term or long-term kidney dialysis; there was certainly the possibility of cognitive brain damage.”

He said, “Any number of things could have just broken down or shut down. We feel really grateful for the doctors, the bed and the medicine, and as important as anything, what turn out to be an international prayer chain. Friends, family, even strangers would pop up (to visit Annie.)

“My mom kept a list of people (that visited me) that was six pages long, including Principal (John) Williams,” Annie said.

She said, “It was funny, because we joke about this sometimes and we say, ‘You know you are dying when Principal Williams comes and visits.” After surviving her ordeal, Annie said that she feels like she has gotten a new chance at life.

While she said she is well on her way to recovery, Annie’s lifestyle has changed quite a bit due to this incident. She said that she is more limited because she can only be out for a certain amount of time and is only allowed at school for four hours a time. However, she said she feels very grateful and sees this event as something that has brought her family closer together.

“What this has taught all of us is that, the small stuff in life is just not worth sweating (over),” Mr. Greenberg said. “Whether you stack up 30 dishes or kick laundry all over the upstairs, it really doesn’t matter as long as your kids are alive and healthy. Of course, we still like an order in our house, but it’s really not important. We’re just grateful for everybody and everything.”