Hope and healing after a medical crisis
Severe abdominal pain brought Lorrie Moon to her local hospital’s emergency room, where scans revealed a small bowel obstruction.
Following surgery, she fell into respiratory failure. The mother of three adult children was connected to a ventilator. Unable to liberate, surgeons placed a tracheostomy for airway support and feeding tube.
After a month in intensive care, she stabilized and transferred to Select Specialty Hospital – Youngstown for additional healing and recovery.
Lorrie’s primary goals were independent breathing, walking and eating.
A physician-led, multi-disciplinary team created a plan for success.
At first, Lorrie couldn’t sit without assistance.
Nurses and therapists deployed a mobility program, encouraging small movements – such as sitting at the bed’s edge or in a chair – to strengthen core muscles. Studies have shown early mobility can help liberate ventilated patients.
Respiratory therapists led chest, coughing and breathing techniques while gradually reducing ventilator support to build Lorrie’s stamina and lung capacity.
Two weeks later, Lorrie celebrated as the breathing machine was wheeled out of her room. Speech and respiratory therapists then inserted a valve that redirected the tracheostomy’s airflow, allowing more normal speech.
In parallel, occupational therapists worked on upper body exercises and tasks that redeveloped grip and grasping abilities. Lorrie relearned how to brush her hair and teeth.
Physical therapists fit Lorrie with a walker and she began to take steps. Over time, distance increased to short hallway walks.
Lorrie’s breathing improved and airway support was discontinued. Speech therapists stepped in again with mouth, tongue and jaw exercises to restore swallowing reflexes. In time, dietitians offered various appropriately textured food as Lorrie resumed regular meals.
“I’m positive that if they hadn’t brought me here, I wouldn’t have made it,” Lorrie said. “I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought. If I had any advice to give, it’s persevere, pray and don’t give up. Life is short, and you only get one.”
After a month, Lorrie met all of her recovery goals and returned home. She couldn’t wait to spend time with family on her back porch again.