From a Bad Cold to Life Support, and Back to Normal | Denae’s Altru Moment

denae-and-terry-photoIn spring of 2016, Denae Bayne of Newfolden, Minnesota, thought she had a bad cold. After a diagnosis of common bronchitis, she was sent home with medicine.

Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Denae was feeling lethargic and gloomy. In the evening, her husband, Terry, knew this wasn’t normal, and he brought her to the closest emergency room in Thief River Falls.

Several tests and chest x-rays revealed Denae did not have bronchitis. It was double pneumonia, covering about one third of her lungs, as well as severe dehydration. She was kept overnight for observation, and given antibiotics and fluids.

By Monday morning, another x-ray showed the pneumonia now covered half of her lungs—and her oxygen levels were dropping. By Tuesday morning, Denae had to be sedated and intubated in order to attempt getting her on a respirator. Another turn for the worse—her body rejected the respirator, and she had to be manually bagged for oxygen.

At 10 a.m., Denae was emergency airlifted to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, where she was immediately put into a medically induced coma and placed on life support.

The pneumonia had aggressively enveloped both of her lungs. As a result, she developed ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). Following more testing in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), doctors determined Denae was infected with the H1N1 influenza virus at some point during the week prior.

Four days before, it was a “bad cold.”

11 Long Days
Denae remained on life support for 11 days. Things took a turn for the better, and she was moved out of the ICU on April 11, 2016. Denae was able to leave the hospital on April 13, with the support of portable oxygen, physical therapy to assist with walking and completing basic hand coordination functions, and her husband, Terry, by her side.

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Today, six months later, Denae’s lungs are just returning to normal. 

Dr. Shivu Kaushik [in Altru’s ICU] consistently kept us updated, and it was clear to see that he genuinely cared for the well-being of my wife,” beams Terry. “He thought she would be on life support for a minimum of three weeks; however, he did say, ‘Some people surprise me.’”

Denae was lucky to be one of those people.

Making an Impression
Dr. Kaushik wasn’t the only person who made an impression on the Baynes. Terry explains, “I can’t forget Dr. Mudireddy, who saw her in ER and the first day in ICU. Also Dr. Dalmi, who was with her on the floor after ICU until discharge. It was a great experience with respiratory, occupational and physical therapies, as well as all the nurses and cleaning staff.”

“In fact, the people at Altru impressed us so much that when we got home, I called our health insurance company and switched our primary care to Altru. It left that big of an impact on our lives!”

The Baynes are back to normal life today, enjoying spending time with family and friends and being outdoors in the fresh air. Denae is back at work, advocating for juveniles in the court system, trying to take every day a little slower and cherishing all the moments along the way.

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