December 30, 2015

Road to Recovery: Pam’s Story

On March 20, 2003 I was admitted to RML Specialty Hospital after a 28-day stay in Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. I was battling streptococcal pneumonia and breathing with the help of a ventilator.

While in ICU, I was put in a drug-induced coma. I only have 24 hours worth of memories from my ICU visit due to the coma. My doctors estimated that it would take a minimum of six months to wean from the ventilator.

I was devastated to learn that I would probably not be able to walk again and could possibly be on a ventilator for the rest of my life. Since bicycle riding was one of my favorite activities, this news was hard to handle.

The employees of RML were very patient and understanding. They helped me fight to get off of the ventilator and on my feet again. The support of the occupational, physical, respiratory and speech therapists allowed me to wean from the ventilator.

What impressed me most about RML was the level of communication between all the employees. For example, I was terrified of getting my tracheotomy and feeding tubes removed. I mentioned this to one of the nurses, and the nurse and the staff reassured me that they would make sure I was comfortable during the procedures. Needless to say, everything went well.

Despite my original prognosis, I was at RML for less than two weeks. I was able to go on my first bike ride in August 2003, just six short months after my stay in intensive care. That first ride was only three miles long, but I was ecstatic. Three years later I completed my first 40 mile ride and in 2008, I was able to ride for 50 miles.

I cannot thank the employees at RML enough for the huge part they played in my road to recovery.

– Pam McQuillen