For 33 year old Crystal Hollister of Meshoppen, the Holidays were extra special this year.
On October 3rd, 2014, Crystal was critically injured when her car hit a tree. Rushed to a local hospital, her injuries included a fractured spleen, a lacerated liver, 6 broken ribs, contusions to her lungs and internal bruising. When her lungs collapsed, she was rushed into surgery. Crystal was intubated and a tracheotomy performed to allow her to be placed on a ventilator. She woke from an induced coma two weeks later, panicked by the sensation of the tracheostomy, and unable to speak.
“I don’t remember much after sitting on the edge of my bed in the hospital, getting checked out by a nurse” Crystal recalls. “The next thing I know, I’m waking up with all these tubes in me.”
One month after the accident, Crystal arrived at Allied Services’ Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (SNC) in Scranton. She was fully dependent on the ventilator and would need aggressive pulmonary support and intensive physical therapy in order to be able to breathe independently.
“Being weaned from a ventilator is a very physically and emotionally demanding process” comments Janice George, RN, Unit Manager at Allied Services SNC.
“When she was admitted, Crystal was experiencing pain while breathing, due to the contusions on her lungs. By working to build her trust, we were able to manage her pain and decrease her stress, which made weaning possible. The experience of being on a ventilator can be scary. You lose your sense of control over something that we take for granted.”
“We offer round-the-clock respiratory support in a home-like setting teach our patients how to work with rather than against the ventilator, giving them the confidence to take back control.”
During her time at Allied Services, Crystal was cared for by an interdisciplinary team of nurses, respiratory therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapist and nutritionists, led by a board certified Pulmonolgist. In just two weeks, she was able to breathe without the help of the ventilator.
“The day that I finally had my trach removed was a day that I’d been looking forward to for a long time. It can be hard to eat or sleep. You’re always worried that you might pull it out or something could go wrong.”
The milestone also brought Crystal that much closer to going home and being with her family. With continued physical, occupational and speech therapy, Crystal grew stronger. A few days before Christmas, Crystal returned home, to the surprise and delight of her daughter.
“My daughter is only 6, so this has been really hard on her. I’m just looking forward to being with my family and getting back to my life.”
Crystal will continue with physical and occupational therapy in her home, thanks to Allied Services’ Home Health.