“I was terrified”

Stephanie Emard’s husband knew it wasn’t a good sign when he was told his wife was the sickest person in the hospital that day. Perhaps thankfully, Stephanie was too sick to realize it herself.

“It was a typical busy day,” Stephanie remembers. “I was at my son’s hockey game and started having chills and stomach cramps. I never get sick and I just thought it was the stomach flu.”

But two days later, things were much worse, and Stephanie’s husband rushed her to The Queensway Carleton Hospital’s Emergency Department. It was here that her whirlwind experience began.

The final diagnosis was toxic shock syndrome caused by a staph A infection — and the treatment was anything but simple. Emergency surgery, two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit, kidney failure and dialysis, a ventilator, fevers that wouldn’t subside, blood transfusions, infectious disease specialists, endless tests, nutrition consults, physiotherapy, and many more challenges followed. Stephanie was a patient at QCH for almost a month, and while things often seemed bleak, they slowly improved.

Stephanie doesn’t remember all the details, but she does remember how she felt:

“Gosh I was terrified, but everyone was so amazing. And the care seemed so seamless. Whenever we asked a question, the team had the answer. And everyone was concerned about my mental health too – how I was handling a situation that was so hard to handle.”

Stephanie says her life was pulled out from under her and she is so thankful that then team at QCH was there to catch her. They care for nearly half a million patients each year, but Stephanie says she felt like the only one. “The nurses were so caring, and the care was so personal. I remember a nurse washing my hair so gently and another nurse brought me toast in the middle of the night when I finally started eating again.”

And that personalized care went beyond the bedside. “Everyone was so friendly and helpful, including the people who transported me to so many tests, the people who took my blood almost every day, and the cleaning staff. Even my physiotherapist Kim was lovely, though I dreaded seeing her coming because the exercises were so challenging.
She was so patient with me.”

Thankfully, Stephanie has made a full recovery and is back to her busy life as a kindergarten teacher and mother of two teenage boys. “There are so many people to thank and I’m sorry I’ve forgotten many of their names,” sums up Stephanie. “I want to thank them all for helping me. Everything was top-notch. It really is a miracle and I am very lucky and very blessed.”

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