From Tragedy to Triumph
Faced with unexpected tragedies, both Julie Guthrie and Kim Steele suffered from sepsis and multi-organ failures that led to quadruple amputation. Lovers of life by nature and fighters by circumstance, however, these women confronted their grim situations head on.
Things may look a little different for them now, but with optimism, strength, unwavering hope and hard work at Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital, they have reclaimed their lives and their independence.
This is Julie Guthrie's story of her inspirational and emotional journey to recovery.
Read Kim Steele's story here.
“Float, float on. Float on, float on . . .”
For most, these are just lyrics that some recognize from the song “Float On” by The Floaters.
For Julie Guthrie, they will forever remind her of one of her most positive memories of the time she spent at Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital.
While she admitted she is not the best singer, she remembers the unforgettable laughs shared during an impromptu concert she had at the hospital’s gym with the rehab team – the same team that worked with her to reclaim her mobility and successfully use prostheses after her quadruple amputation.
In August 2019, Julie suffered septic shock and multi-organ failure after a kidney stone unexpectedly became stuck and caused a massive blood infection.
“I had an extremely poor prognosis. Most people do not survive severe sepsis with multi-organ failure, and the ICU doctors told my daughters I had about a 30% chance of surviving.”
In just the first 48 hours of sepsis, she experienced kidney failure, liver failure and a heart attack.
But the complications did not stop there.
Julie also had disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which prevented circulation to her extremities.
After spending a week in ICU on a ventilator and five full days on dialysis, she was faced with the most difficult decision of her life: undergo a quadruple amputation or be sent to hospice.
Told she may not even survive the surgery, it was at that very moment that she, along with the support of her daughters, decided to fight.
Two days later, surgeons amputated both of her legs above the knee, her right hand and all of her fingers and top of her thumb on her left hand.
“I truly do not think any of us thought I would make a full recovery, but once I survived through my amputation surgery, I think it became clear that I am not giving up and I will survive!”
When she arrived at Roosevelt, her dedicated team worked diligently to teach her how to successfully live a whole new lifestyle. What seemed impossible at first, like eating and bathing, soon become easy, and now Julie is able to independently water her flowers at home, put on makeup and even hold her “new grandson and love on him.”
“I may look a little different now, but every day I am reminded that I am still me. And I am here because my story is not over, and neither is yours!”
And she will never forget when she put on her prosthetic legs for the first time and stood up. “I felt so tall,” she said, expressing her gratitude to her rehab team for helping her regain her strength and dexterity to even be ready to use her prosthetics.
“Rehab might sound scary to some after having such a major surgery such as amputation, but it was truly a life-changing experience for me. They ensured that I left there with all the necessary tools to live a successful life as an amputee.”
Julie’s life is not what it was before, but her experience has taught her a number of lessons that she wishes to pass on to others who may face a similar situation.
As The Floaters sing in their hit song, “Now, I like a woman who loves her freedom,” and Julie’s love for her ability to live a free, independent life even after a quadruple amputation is in no short supply.
She says, “I may look a little different now, but every day I am reminded that I am still me. And I am here because my story is not over, and neither is yours!”
And sometimes a little concert, even if you are not the world’s best singer, is all you need to remind yourself of what you have been through, where you will go and how much life has to offer.
For more information on the life-changing services provided by Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital, visit their website.
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