When talk of flu shots becoming available starts each year, Terri Lipovsky, a registered nurse who works at the McLaren Surgery Center, takes notice. After all, the flu almost took her life in early 2014. She became ill on New Year’s Eve 2013 and went to the emergency department at McLaren Flint. She was placed on the hospital’s heart unit, was diagnosed with pneumonia, went into pulmonary edema, and was moved to the coronary care unit where she was intubated.
On January 15, 2014, Terri was diagnosed with H1N1 influenza and transferred for specialized care. She remained a critical care patient for a month. Her only memories of this time period are of the first two days she was on the heart unit. In mid-February she was well enough to be transported back to McLaren Flint for three weeks of inpatient rehabilitation.
“Once I got to rehab I was so debilitated I could not sit up on my own. I could not raise my arm or walk. I was totally dependent on the staff’s help,” Lipovsky says. “During my illness, my family was told many times I may not make it and to prepare for the worst. When I first came to rehab, a physician told me I may never work again.”
One common myth about the flu is healthy people thinking that they do not need to be vaccinated. “I would tell myself flu shots are for the old, very young and weak. I did not see myself as compromised, but I should have known better,” Lipovsky says. “It’s not worth putting yourself and your family through such an ordeal. I often think they suffered more than I did.”
“DURING MY ILLNESS, MY FAMILY WAS TOLD MANY TIMES
I MAY NOT MAKE IT AND TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST.”
“While it is very important for people who have a chronic illness to get the flu shot, even healthy people can benefit from being vaccinated,” states Sydney Lorey, physician assistant at the McLaren Flint-Community Medical Center in Flint Township. “Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend yearly vaccination against influenza for everyone older than six months of age, including pregnant women. Another common myth is that you cannot spread the flu if you are feeling well. Statistics show between 20 and 30 percent of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms. By getting vaccinated, you help protect yourself, your family at home, and if you work, your coworkers.”
When she is not wearing scrubs now, Lipovsky can often be found in a T-shirt and jeans enjoying a motorcycle ride. “I am so thankful for all of the people who gave me care during my nearly three months in the hospital, as well as all of the prayers I received along the way,” Lipovsky says. “I decided to share my story in hopes I can save at least one person from going through what my family and I did.”