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The Importance of the Flu Shot…and Prayer: Lora Rice’s Slow Recovery

Lora Rice

Lora Rice

Just days before Christmas, Lora Rice was beginning to feel ill. She tested negative for a flu virus, but was prescribed antibiotics and sent home. She spent Christmas in bed sick and after she fell, her family took her to a Fort Smith Hospital on December 26, 2013. This time she was diagnosed with the H1N1 flu virus, double pneumonia and ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and was admitted into an intensive care unit. It all came on in just that fast. In a matter of days she went from perfectly healthy to a life threatening condition. Lora had not had a flu shot. Physicians say that even a regular flu shot can ward off much of the dangers of the H1N1 virus.

H1N1 is an airborne virus. You probably never know you were in contact with it. The carrier could be anyone you pass on the street, shake hands with at Church or speak with while shopping, working or dining. Lora Rice has no idea where she picked up the virus. She was not, to her knowledge around anyone in the days before Christmas who had a flu virus.

Due to the double pneumonia and ARDS, Lora was placed on a ventilator and given only fluids. On January 22nd a tracheostomy was performed. Lora spent 65 days in an intensive care unit.

On February 4th Lora was flown to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri for further treatment. She was flown back to Fort Smith on February 28th for placement in a LTAC (Long term Acute Care Unit) where her family hopes she will be weaned off the ventilator and begin the slow recovery she faces. Lora has had nothing to eat or drink since December 26th. She spent most of the 65 intensive care unit days in a medically induced coma. Step by confusing step she is piecing together what has happened over the last few months. She has missed Christmas, her family and time with her grandchildren.

Lora was allowed to come out of her coma very slowly due to the shock and confusion a patient undergoes waking up with a tracheostomy, feeding tubes. All of this was inserted after she fell asleep ill before Christmas. Her family has been piecing together for her what all has transpired.

Lora and her family have been the subject of news stories statewide. They have also been the recipients of the prayers of this community. On February 19 & 20 there was “24 Hours of Prayer” for Lora as people signed up on facebook to set their alarm clocks and pray throughout the night for Lora, her recovery and her family. Hoping there would be at least one person for each hour, the family was thrilled and humbled to learn that there were several for each hour throughout the night willing to participate in the effort. Lora’s sister Suzie Stovall says, “I was led to a book on intercessory prayer I had in my office, but, I had not read it. When I found the book, its opening passages were about praying for someone with a tracheostomy and feeding tubes and I knew I been led there for a reason. I looked at the inside cover to see where I had gotten the book. It was stamped ‘Lora Lea Rice’. Lora had loaned me the book 8 years ago.”

Lora has suffered damage to 80% of her lungs. She faces uncertainty about her respiratory capacity. Her life will be a somewhat different one and her recovery will be slow, but her family, including her parents Glenda and Jack Wallace, Lora’s sisters Katie and Suzie, children and grandchildren are all hopeful. They are thankful for the marvels of modern medicine and the prayers of the people of Greenwood and far beyond for Lora’s progress. A “Lora Rice Medical Fund” account has been established at ARVEST Bank to help defray the expenses for Lora’s treatment that insurance will not cover.

Lora’s story and her family will serve to advocate inoculation for the flu virus and they urge everyone to consult a physician about the benefits.

PSG Pharmacy
PSG Pharmacy