Karen Wyrosdick: A survivor#039;s story against all odds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2007

It was a bright sunny day.

A day of great victory and celebration for Crenshaw County resident, Karen Wyrosdick, as she stepped across the threshold of the Luverne Health and Rehab, into her life again.

Her life had been suspended for almost a year now, hanging in the balance between life and death.

Wyrosdick, who's a youthful mother of two grown sons, Rodney and Jason, and grandmother to 13-month-old Corabeth, had been employed as the bookkeeper at Luverne School for 25 years, and her future had looked as bright as the beautiful March day she exited the nursing home.

A host of family members and others close to her accompanied her as she began her life anew, having cheated death many times the past year.

&#8220I remember being at Terry Cauthen's house and getting real sick,” Wyrosdick said.

&#8220Terry took me to the hospital and the next thing I remembered was 31 days later!

Jeanine, my sister, was there and I was so happy to see her.

I really don't know what happened after that.”

Those closest to her said it was only the beginning of a medical nightmare that only recently ended.

Terry Cauthen vividly remembers

arriving at Crenshaw Community Hospital at 5:30 a.m. June 29th, 2006, with Karen, and said at 7:00 a.m. that she coded.

&#8220I had called her son, Rodney, my mother and several of Karen's closest friends,” Cauthen said.

&#8220They stabilized her, and were going to air-lift her to U.A.B. in Birmingham, but decided on Baptist South in Montgomery, because it was closer.

Our lives hung in limbo for 31 days, not knowing if she'd live or die.

They said she was brain dead, but the next day she woke up.”

Cauthen described a nightmare of medical emergencies, ranging from heart medicine to restart her heart, causing her toes on both feet to have to be amputated, being on dialysis when her kidneys failed, recurring infection and all the while being on a respirator.

Wyrosdick was said to be suffering from a wide range of diagnoses, ranging from sepsis, with septic shock, respiratory failure, Sogren's Syndrome, acute renal failure and immuneosuppression, along with other complications that baffled physicians, such as her coma, seizures and stroke.

&#8220They gave up on her several times,” Cauthen said.

&#8220At one point they took her off the respirator and said it was just a matter of time.”

Virginia Beasley, a close childhood friend, remembered those as being their darkest hours on July 28-29, 2006.

&#8220Doctor Walker came up to Baptist Hospital and got her back in ICU, on a respirator again,” Beasley said. &#8220I really believe God sent him as an angel of mercy.

All the churches in Crenshaw County were praying, and it's only by the grace of God that Karen survived.

I never accepted their prognosis,” Beasley said.

&#8220Karen was needed here.

I prayed selfishly for God to spare her, but also for His will to be done.”

Beasley said the first two weeks she went every day and took turns with many others close to Karen who spent the night outside the I.C.U.

Beasley said the vigil continued after Wyrosdick was moved to the long-term care unit at Jackson Hospital.

Wyrosdick remembers sensing God's presence, and said, &#8220It was a warmth of love and peace.

I wasn't afraid.

He was also in the people who never left my side,” she said.

&#8220I can never tell them how much I love each of themŠ

But God knows.

I believe God placed Terry Cauthen in my life for this time.

He's never left me or given up on me.

Dr. Walker is an angel on earth.

I've been his patient since 1976, and he cares about me.

He saved my life!

God left me here for a reason,” Wyrosdick said.

&#8220I have quite a testimony about what He's done for me.”

Wyrosdick remembers telling those closest to her she wanted to come home – back to Luverne.

Beasley said she'll always be grateful to Luverne Health and Rehab for not just being a nursing home for Karen, but a home, and a place that ultimately led to her recovery.

Two of the certified nursing assistants on hall five, Letha Willis and Kim Stroud, were sitters at the hospital, her caregivers at the nursing home, and will be her helpers at home.

Wyrosdick said she owes a great debt of gratitude to the Therapy Department at Luverne Health and Rehab for their role in her recovery.

Cauthen said he's very optimistic about Wyrosdick's future, but stopped short of divulging her plans.

He did say he's &#8220tickled to death” she's going home, and is looking forward to happier days.

&#8220Today is a dream come true,” Wyrosdick said, turning her face toward the bright sun.