English native Stephen Botten and his wife, Beverly, traveled the world as part of Stephen’s decades-long business career.
After Stephen retired, the couple moved to the U.S., settling in North Carolina. They kept up with their globetrotting, and, in late winter, Beverly flew to Paris for a short vacation.
In early March, Stephen’s gout flared. He called Beverly from the triage area to let her know what was going on. An ocean away, the “gargling” sound in her husband’s voice chilled her. She hung up and booked the next flight home.
Beverly scrambled to get back to North Carolina. She arrived home in the nick of time. Stephen’s arm, hand and wrist were badly infected. She rushed him to the emergency room.
Stephen quickly declined as an infection coursed through his bloodstream. He was sedated and placed on ventilator. An operation cleared the infection.
It took a month for Stephen to stabilize. When he did, doctors transferred him to Select Specialty Hospital - Tri-Cities for extended healing and recovery.
It was not an easy road. Though he arrived in April, ventilator liberation took until midsummer.
Additionally, a skin condition caused significant pain, sometimes causing Stephen to refuse all therapy and mobility activities.
Then, one day, a therapist discovered a motivational barter -- back scratches. Whenever he cooperated and completed the day’s therapy, someone took a few passes with a backscratcher.
It may have helped save his life.
At first, he could only roll to his side, a big step considering how painful Stephen’s skin remained. He progressed to sitting on the bed for extended periods of time and standing for up to two minutes.
“You couldn’t want any more from a team, I can’t praise them enough,” Stephan shared.
Because visiting was restricted to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Stephen’s care team kept him connected to Beverly through regular video chats.
As fall closed in, Stephen continued making progress. Speech therapists worked on retraining his mouth and jaw to chew and swallow. His airway support was removed and replaced with a small nasal oxygen tube.
In early October, Stephen was finally ready for the next stage of recovery. He departed for a brief, two-week stay at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital to finish rebuilding strength and stamina.
He happily returned to Beverly and their home in North Carolina.
Almost a year after falling ill, Stephen is doing well.
“I owe my recovery and life to the team at Select Specialty,” he said.