Eagle woman fights killer disease
July 21, 2010
EAGLE, Colorado – Kendra Creek is what miracles look like.
Bacterial meningitis is trying to kill her. She won’t let it, but the battle cost her both hands and feet.
Wednesday was the first time since May 1 she has been able to sit in a wheelchair and roll outside the hospital to enjoy the summer sun.
Her story is wonderful and terrible. No matter what you think you’re going through, quit complaining. It’s not this.
The 22-year-old Eagle resident was in Indiana with relatives when a brutal headache forced her to the emergency room for help. Moments later she lapsed into septic shock.
When bacterial meningitis attacks, the blood rushes to the vital organs in a fight or flight response to keep them alive, and away from arms and legs. Kendra’s extremities turned black. They were dying without blood.
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She was rushed to intensive care. Doctors told the family she would not live 24 hours.
She lived, but Kendra’s kidneys failed and she had to go into dialysis. Doctors could not revive her extremities, and 28 days later started amputating – her right arm just below the elbow, her left hand, and both legs just below the knee.
You know the Creek family name. Their son, Joseph, was struck by a local ambulance three years ago and died instantly.
Her father, Michael, is battling multiple sclerosis. He did what any father would do when he got the call from Indiana. He and Kendra’s mother Angela dropped everything, including his MS treatments, and drove from Eagle to Indiana where their daughter was fighting for her life. It’s a long, tedious 24-hour drive under the best circumstances. It’s the road to hell under these.
It takes longer when you have car trouble, as they did, in one of those Midwestern stretches where you’re surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of miles and miles.
“We had more notice with Kendra than we did with our son,” Michael said during a phone call Wednesday from outside Kendra’s room in Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis. She gets grouchy when Michael talks on the phone in her room because she’s 22, has no hands and can’t do it.
Michael and Angela are trying to keep the bills paid, but MS cost him his job with UPS. She’s a manager with the local Office Depot store. Obviously, she’s with her daughter and can’t work either. They’re staying in hotels to be close to Kendra.
Diane Dike’s local organization, Second Chance for Saving Grace, gave them an RV, but they cannot park it near the downtown hospital. Now Dike’s group needs another RV.
Kendra’s rehabilitation will be three and a half hours of physical therapy daily, and another three and a half hours on a kidney dialysis machine. But she’s alive and fighting.
“I’m dealing with nothing compared to what my daughter is dealing with,” Michael said. “I don’t even consider my problems.”
What on God’s green earth can you do for these people?
You can give till you get some perspective, is what you can do.
Kendra’s prosthetic hands and feet will cost more than $100,000. How much more remains unclear.
Dike’s group is hosting a fundraiser Saturday night at Moe’s Barbecue in Eagle. Meadow Gold is bringing an ice cream truck. Of course there will be a silent auction.
Medicaid will cover the cost of a hook or claw for Kendra’s arm, but no more. Robotic hands are too expensive for the feds. We’ll refrain from cost comparisons for bank bailouts and other federal villainy.
This one’s up to us.
Kendra was resting when we called Wishard Hospital yesterday, so we didn’t get to ask her what it’s like to go through seven surgeries and wake up with fewer appendages than when you went in.
We also didn’t get to ask her about the six skin grafts she endured at Wishard’s world-leading burn unit.
We did learn that she’s happy to be moving to a rehabilitation hospital in Indianapolis, today or maybe Friday, where she’ll be fitted with her prosthetics and start bending them to her will.
She’s already shooing her mom and dad away, doing everything she can for herself.
“It’s difficult for a young woman to not have any hands, but she does everything she can,” Michael said. “She’s a very independent person. She won’t let this overcome her; she’ll overcome this. She’s looking forward to getting started with rehabilitation.”
And she was happy Wednesday, the first day she’d felt the sun on her adorable face since she struggled through that emergency room door May 1.
“I feel blessed. I honestly do. We still got her and that’s the important thing,” Michael said. “Wishard Hospital has the best burn unit there is. They’ve done an amazing job. Everyone has been spectacular.”
Dike was 23 years old when she heard the same diagnosis, bacterial meningitis, and faced the same mountain of heartbreak. Miracles found Dike and although she’s in a wheelchair, she was spared amputation.
Kendra’s grandmother, Connie Ellis, works at the local UPS store. Her son Michael used to before he was stricken with MS. They’ve shipped love kits from Dike’s organization to every point on the globe.
Connie is doing all she can from Eagle, thankful for miracles 1,200 miles away in Indy.
“All we could do is pray that she lived. She did, and she has been a miracle every day since,” Connie said. “Not one time has she cried for herself. She only says, ‘Mom and Dad, you look tired. You should get some rest.'”
She’s right. They should, but they won’t.
Michael and Angela won’t make Saturday’s event. They’ll be with their daughter, where they should be.
“We’re going to stay here, right where we need to be,” Michael said.