Life takes a sudden turn with daughter’s trip to ICU

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2023

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“Critical but stable.” Those were the words that came out of the mouth from the attending doctor in the emergency room when I asked for an assessment on my daughter’s condition.

How could this be?

I had talked to her the day before, and she sounded fine except for a little cough that she couldn’t get rid of.

Then, I got a call early the next morning that she was being rushed by ambulance to Forsyth Medical Center. Of course, I was concerned but hadn’t yet heard those shocking three words above. Her husband and their two daughters beat me to the hospital.

Seeing the mood in the waiting room wasn’t a welcome sight, but when I got back to her temporary location in the ER holding spot, I knew it was worse than I imagined.

She had been experiencing trouble breathing, was dizzy, nauseous and wasn’t able to get out of bed before being transported. I could see she was uncomfortable and incoherent at times, with her vital numbers bouncing around at scary levels.

The doctor then revealed that my daughter had an infection throughout her body and was in septic shock. I knew about sepsis but soon found out sepsis shock was the worst of three phases and considered life-threatening.

He added she was “very sick,” and they were waiting for a room to open up in ICU, the intensive care unit, where only patients who need critical care and life support go.

As a family, we really weren’t sure what was ahead but found out the next day was “worse,” and the doctor was recommending that she go on a ventilator to give her the best chance of survival.

Of course, we were thinking “death sentence” as tears flowed and prayers went up. The doctors were trying to find the best course of action since they couldn’t get to the bottom of where this came from.

The third day was a bit better, setting up a roller-coaster ride where she got off the ventilator only to have to go back on it again before coming off a few days later. By Day 9, we could see progress, and the ICU docs and nurses started talking about her going to the intermediate care unit room or perhaps a room on the pulmonary care unit.

After 12 days in ICU and another week on the pulmonary floor, she was discharged — with home physical therapy on board with the goal of her eating more and gaining strength.

We thank God for her continuing recovery and also for a caring community we discovered in the ICU waiting room as families faced all critical but different challenges with their loved ones.

I never thought in a place like this that we would get to know people from all different walks of life and get to experience the up and downs of sharing what was going on with others at this level — realizing we weren’t alone in this journey.

And also, this should serve as a reminder for us all each and every day: Don’t take life for granted.

• • • • •

I vividly remember when Ken Peacock, a longtime member of the Bermuda Run Planning Board, was appointed to the town council in January 2020.
I was like, “Wow, Ken Peacock, the former chancellor at App State, was going to be sitting up front for each monthly meeting I covered.”

As an App State alum, I admired from afar the tremendous job he did in his 10-year run as chancellor (from 2004-2014) and all the good work he did in lifting the university to higher standards in so many ways — including establishing the College of Health Sciences, overseeing a new building for the Reich College of Education and creating a program for low-income students in the state with an opportunity to earn a degree, debt-free.

However, most of all, I got to know a man with so many positive attributes up close and personal during his nearly two years on the council, listening to his ideas on how to make Bermuda Run a better place to live and sharing stories on many App State memories on the side.

So when I heard he passed away last Friday, I joined a large group of mourners in Bermuda Run, Boone and all the other many places where Dr. Peacock touched lives.

He was truly one of a kind. I fondly recall him leading the cheers from the sidelines while sporting his App State football jersey as the Mountaineers won three straight national championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007 along with pulling off the greatest upset in college football history by beating Michigan.

“The university and the High Country have lost a beloved leader,” Chancellor Sheri Everts said, “but his legacy certainly continues. Our hearts are with his family and many loved ones during this difficult time.”

Peacock was appointed to the council to fill the vacant seat created when former councilman Rick Cross was elected mayor in 2019.

“Ken left a lasting impression on our community through his selflessness, determination and devotion to improving the lives of others,” Cross said.
That was Ken Peacock. He will be missed.