TIMELINE

7/15/2005–1/11/2006 – Striken with necrotizing pancreatitis while vacationing over a thousand miles from home, Lea Vaughn spent 180 days in Hartford (Connecticut) Hospital. When she had recovered enough that she could be transferred to a major hospital nearer her home, friends and family, no surgeon could be found that would accept her due to the severity of her continuing health problems. After her release and return to her home, Larry continued providing updates for family and friends who wanted to keep current on her progress.

Those periodic updates can be accessed by clicking on the date in the list below. The original updates, the Hartford Letters, can be accessed in the Hartford Letters Vault.

12/18/2005 – Fistula may be closing up, indicating that the body may be ready to deal with the pancreatic fluids. She walked!! She walked into the ICU!! Lea spent well over an hour arranging fresh flowers into two large vases. Then slept.

12/25/2005 – Wonderful Christmas Day in the hospital. CT scan ordered to see what is going on in her abdomen that is causing her to feel full all the time. Dr Mah tells her she needs to be out of bed more than she is in it. Lab reports came back with nearly normal results. Walked to family lounge from her room, using only the hand rail mounted to the wall for support.

2006

Lea continued to grow stronger as the weeks and months passed, and she and Larry made a couple of short overnight trips in spring and early summer months to test her endurance and prepare for a longer trip to visit friends and relatives in Missouri, where much of her family resides. Travel required careful preparations to ensure that all needed medications and other medical needs were readily available, and that contingency plans were in place in case of emergency. Even the white noise machine we had used in the hospital to mask ambient noise, became an important item to help her rest well.

Travel of any kind was dangerous because of her open wound, which continued to drain through the fistula until March 11, 60 days after discharge from the hospital, at which time it seemed to dry up, and caused no further problems. The skin over the abdomen, however, was very thin, and could be ruptured by the slightest blow or high pressure of the type that might be caused by a seat belt during a vehicular accident. Larry was even nervous about taking her shopping, since an accidental bumping of her shopping cart could force the handle into her stomach.

But, we were able to resume a somewhat normal routine of daily shopping trips, initially to help Lea get some exercise. She actually could walk for about an hour while holding onto a shopping cart. But, when she reached her limit, she just couldn’t go any more. The shopping trip came to an end, and she had to go home to bed for a restorative nap. This part of the routine, however, did a great deal to help her get her mind working better, as she eventually began to plan meals again, and grew strong enough to handle pots and pans.

By July Lea was feeling well enough to make a visit to Missouri. Plans were made for the five hour drive to her sister, Kathy’s, home, and to stay for two weeks, so she would be able to recover well enough to make the five hour return trip. Much to everyone’s surprise, she seemed to be able to do much more physical activity than she had been able to accomplish at home. She enjoyed being with her sister’s children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers and their families, and friends from the years she had lived in that area of Missouri.

She was anxious to be involved in family activities, so she spent a great deal more time out of bed than she had previously, and actually was able to leave me behind while she went with her sister. I was quite comfortable that Kathy could care for Lea properly, and that she understood Lea’s special needs, so I was actually able to get some much appreciated free time for myself. In fact, we enjoyed ourselves so well, we extended our stay by another week, until we ran out of medicine, and then returned to Indiana.

Over the summer months following Lea’s discharge from the hospital, we grew much closer than we had ever been, as she had to rely on me for her care and protection.  I dedicated myself to taking good care of someone who is so important to God that she would be used to help Him move so mightily through the lives touched during her illness and recovery. We had housing provided to us near the medical facilities she needed, and placed our bed & breakfast on the market, realizing that we had moved beyond the time in our life that we were going to be able to maintain and operate it.

We had to release so much of what had been important to us in past, and set our sights on what the Lord was setting before us in the coming months and years. We were moving from our huge 12-room bed & breakfast to a comfortable 4-room house which had no room for the bulky Victorian furniture and furnishings we had accumulated. We were able to pass those on to friends and family members who had use for them. We retained very little, but found that our lifestyle had changed so significantly that we needed very little.

As Lea continued to heal over the summer months, we made a return trip to Missouri, and then in the fall traveled to Hawaii to visit our family. She had really been missing her granddaughters, and wanted to spend some time with them. We also felt the trip would give Lea a great environment to do some real restorative healing. We had been in contact with Dr Mah by email, and he had agreed to do the surgery to close Lea’s abdomen the following February if she was healthy enough. He had instructed me to send him some close-ups of the operative area so he could make a decision about the procedure to use. He also was planning to consult a plastic surgeon to talk about the closure.

Within days of our arrival in Hawaii, Lea missed a step, fell, and broke her right hip. We had used the kitchen to prepare some lunch at Link’s house, and decided to do some cleanup. I was mopping the hardwood floor, and she was standing at the counter watching me, when she wondered if they had any kind of polish or sealer. She walked off, without her cane, and went to the utility closet, across the room, and up one step.

She rummaged through the closet and found something she thought might work, and she turned around, while reading the directions on the back of the bottle, and started walking back to the kitchen.  She was so involved in reading she forgot about the step. The next thing I heard was a lot of loud banging and a dull thud as she flung her arm at the wall in an effort to catch herself, only to fall onto a heavy wooden end table, and landing on the rock tiled floor.

I didn’t know what had happened, but knew it couldn’t be anything good. I quickly threw the mop away from me and ran out of the kitchen to find her laying on her right side on the floor. She was in a state of shock, very pale, and I was terribly fearful that she might have ruptured her abdomen. I called out, loudly, to God, pleading with Him to protect her internal organs from harm, and to restore any damage that might have been done to them.

Then I started tending to her, there on the floor, praying intensely. I elevated her feet onto a pillow, placed a bath towel on her as a cover, and put a cool cloth on her forehead. We talked. I asked her where she hurt, and prepared ice packs for those areas. Her right arm was banged up and scratched pretty badly, and she thought she had pulled her groin muscle. She said her abdomen did not hurt, and she didn’t think she had any real damage other than the pulled muscle or tendon in her groin.

11/21/2006 – Lea missteps and breaks right hip between femur and ball socket. Three titanium screws implanted by Dr John Bellatti, Kealakekua, Hawaii. She has lower abdominal pain, but no apparent damage to the abdomen from the fall.

2007

3/22/2007 – While being driven home from Indianapolis airport, our driver blacked out and drove up onto the median curb at highway speed. Lea receives two blows to the abdomen as the truck slammed up onto the curb, bruises on right hip where her hip surgery was performed, one on right breast, and pain in lower right abdomen.

3/26/2007 – Diagnosed Type 1 diabetes. Treated with daily injections of Lantus, and Humalog as needed.

7/11/2007 – Knee replacement performed at Riverview Hospital, Noblesville, Indiana by Dr John Cittadine. Hospitalized seven days due to the 5 hour surgery being more extensive than usual.

11/18-2007 – Relocated to Austin, Texas to be near son’s family to have someone to help care for Lea, and serve as a backup in case Larry is unable to care for her. Lea begins to improve greatly as she begins to care for our grandson.

2008

A good year of mental and physical strengthening for Lea, as she became focused on caregiving for our grandson. She forced herself to concentrate on accomplishing tasks by using extensive handwritten notes as reminders, and she has improved her physical strength by playing and lifting him. She is now able to sit on the floor and get up by herself, all of which happened when the grandson got old enough to sit in the floor to play with his toys. He has been more than a blessing for us, he is a reward!

2009

We are continuing to see Lea gain strength and endurance, as our grandson has given her a new purpose in life. She has stated that God let her recover so she could be here to help raise him, and she derives so much joy from being with him, it’s easy for me to believe she’s correct. We continue to have medical and financial issues, but the Lord always provides for our needs, and have given us a strong church family that cares and supports us.

2010

Lea has continued to improve over the past year, growing in physical and mental stamina. Her limp has lessened as she has concentrated on her posture, and adjusted to the artificial knee and broken hip on the same leg. Our grandsons have given us renewed vigor and purpose. We have also gotten more involved in our church activities, which has given her additional social activities that help her regain much of her former bubbly personality. As we look ahead to the coming months, we are going to lose a substantial portion of our monthly income, as her long term disability benefits from her previous employer come to an end. We aren’t sure what that means to our future, but trust in God’s provision, and know that His plan for us will put us in the proper circumstances to continue doing His Kingdom work.

2014

It’s hard to believe we are almost ten years after our stay at Hartford Hospital! So much has happened, and we are so happy to be together, we praise the Lord, and give thanks every single day for the blessing of another day together. Every day is special! We welcome the opportunity to give our testimony at every occasion.

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