Carol’s “Will To Live” has been Carol Will’s personal slogan for these several weeks.
Her death defying journey began May 30. She had just finished watching Vanna on “Wheel of Fortune” when a strange pain hit her stomach. Carol, 59, who lives in Farmington and has been working as a nurse for Parkland Health Center in both Farmington and Bonne Terre for more than 20 years, began to vomit blood and called for her husband Don to help her.
Soon she was on her way to Parkland ER. There they gave her six units of blood and flew her to St. Louis in critical condition.
She was diagnosed as having esophageal varices. This appears in people who have cirrhosis, high pressure in the veins that carry blood from the intestines to the liver (portal hypertension), which causes many problems.
Variceal bleeding from these enlarged veins (varices) in the digestive tract is an extremely serious complication of portal hypertension.
Carol, who never used alcohol, had kept a diligent schedule of lab work and doctor visits for the past 20 years, but was unaware that she had progressed to Stage 4 Liver disease.
Carol received banding surgery and was able to return home. Things were smooth for three days and then another horrible rupture occurred.
She arrived at Parkland ER again – in dire critical condition. There she was surrounded by her family, daughter Denise, husband Don, and sister-in-law Carla. Carol’s godson Josh was holding her hand and sharing his calmness along with his mom, Bev.
Multiple units of blood were being put in both arms, IV solutions were being pumped, and medications were being pushed into tubes.
Everything was so cold going into her body, she required warming equipment. When Carol was awake she was aware of who was present and she would speak softly.
She was flown again by Air Evac to St. Louis. She even had the same pilot and nurse on board from the previous trip. They landed at Barnes hospital where the doctors and nurses were ready for her.
The doctors would update the family with statements that would give an hour by hour prognosis. They returned a short time later and informed the family that things had changed now to minute by minute.
Several procedures were performed by the “Critical Care Team” as they worked to help Carol survive. She continued to fight through the night. She lived through surgery. A procedure called (TIPS), Transjugular, Intrahepatic, Portal, Systemic Shunt was performed.
She was given 61 units of blood product which consist of platelets, blood, or plasma. The surgery was a success, but then it was time for Carol to show her own strength and come off life support. She was breathing on her own three days later. The doctors stated, “This is a miracle.”
Through prayer, intensive treatment, and support from family and friends, Carol was able to leave the hospital. She received therapy from Camelot Nursing Facility and returned home.
As a way to restock the shelves of blood, her daughter Denise Vandiver planned an American Red Cross blood drive that was held July 30 at the First Baptist Church in Farmington where Carol attends church. Besides restocking the shelves as a thank-you, Denise also doesn’t know if Carol will need more blood donations in the future.
Carol was there to meet and greet the donors. A total of 22 units were collected for the American Red Cross. Bev said many warm-hearted blessed people came to donate and to support her and the Red Cross.
Bev said they’d like to offer a thank you to the church staff, Little Caesars pizza, volunteers, and Peggy Lake. Upcoming blood drives are currently in the works and will be announced soon. They hope to have one in October. The top goal is to reach 70 units.
“You never know when your life’s journey may change in an unpredictable moment,” Carol said. “I feel that I have been given not one but two more chances in life to live.
“I know in my heart that God has something special for me still to do. I would not be alive today without God’s grace, knowledge of the doctors, support from family and friends, and the 67 units of blood donations.”
Carol will see her liver doctor in a couple weeks. Denise said the goal is to get her on the liver transplant list soon.