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The Will To Walk

Nancy Mood is a fighter. The long-time Indian Hills and now Evergreen resident recently celebrated her 65th birthday. In order to get to her birthday party, she did something doctors told her she would never be able to again, she walked.

Nancy Mood Walks to her 65th birthday after six months of therapyThe simple act of putting one foot in front of the other is one of those things that most of us take for granted. It’s not until we are faced with the prospect of losing this ability or having to relearn it that we realize how it important it is to our health, happiness and independence.

If there is anyone who understands the value of independence, it’s Nancy Mood. Originally from New York, she still has a thick accent from Brooklyn, and when she talks, she tells it like it is. Spend a few a minutes with Nancy, and we dare you not to laugh. She has a boisterous sense of humor that you will make you glad you lost the challenge.

Unfortunately last fall, there was little to laugh about in Nancy’s life. She developed a kidney infection that turned to sepsis. For those of you unfamiliar with sepsis, it’s the body’s extreme response to an infection. The immune system stops fighting the germs and turns on itself. It is a life-threatening medical emergency that can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

“It was touch and go there for a while,” said Nancy’s sister. “We didn’t think she was going to get back on her feet.”

Surviving sepsis was Nancy’s first obstacle, with that behind her, she faced another daunting challenge: recovery. Severe sepsis survivors often struggle to participate in everyday activities such as bathing, preparing meals and even walking.

“The doctor said to me, ‘If you haven’t walked by now, you probably aren’t going to. You need to be in a home.’” Nancy recalled. “I said, ‘Uh-uh, you don’t know me.”

With the seed of determination firmly planted, Nancy went from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility to home. Until that point, she hadn’t had anyone who believed her recovery was possible. She found herself propped in a recliner with no way to get out of it. That’s where her care team from Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice found her when they entered the picture.

“They were a team that can’t be beat,” explains Nancy. “Without them, I wouldn’t be walking. I’d still be in my room. I wanted to kill myself literally.”

(L-R) OT Britta Heublin, Nancy Mood and CNA Toni Aho with PT Susan Adamowski and RN Meg Leadford celebrating Nancy’s 65th birthday.

That team included Physical Therapist (PT) Susan Adamowski, Occupational Therapist (OT) Britta Heublin, Nurse Meg Leadford and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Toni Aho.

“These guys had me doing exercises.  I used weights. I started with three pounds and that was enough for me. Then one day they came in the door with five pound weights and I thought ‘You got to be kidding me,’” Nancy laughed. “But the more they threw at me, the more I wanted.”

“In the beginning I said to her, ‘I’m not asking, we are doing it.’ There was a lot pushing.” Susan Adamowski, PT explains, “We just kept telling her, ‘you have this, you have got to get your life back.’”

Nancy trusted them enough to do what she thought was nuts. In addition to the exercises, she changed her diet as well. She swapped soda for sparkling water and watched what she ate. Soon she started shedding pounds and inches.

When the team couldn’t be there, Nancy had the support of her sister who fed her three times a day and the support of Linda Veal, a dedicated caregiver she hired.

“This was a woman who came in the middle of the night if I needed her. She went above and beyond,” explains Nancy. “Linda helped me with my personal care. That freed Toni (Mount Evans CNA) to spend her time doing exercises with me.”

“They were doing the magic. My job was to monitor Nancy’s medications and keep her healthy enough to participate in the exercises, said Meg Leadford, RN. If she had gotten sick or developed an infection, it would have set her back.”

It was a long six-month journey and Nancy still has more recovering and rehabilitation ahead of her. She’s walking, showering and accomplishing chores on her own. To mark her transition from home health care to outpatient therapy, her family of caregivers held a birthday/graduation party.

“They mean the world to me,” said Nancy. “I love every one of them. They’ve become more than workers. They are friends. I can’t say enough about them or Mount Evans.”

Nancy is anxious to build on her progress. She has a goal to get behind the wheel of the Bimmer (BMW) she recently purchased. We can’t wait to see that happen. Nancy has proven that when she sets her mind on something, nothing can stop her and nothing would make us smile more than to see her whizzing around Evergreen.