Before Christopher Johnson, 65, became sick 18 months ago, he was unfamiliar with the idea of a long-term specialty hospital, until a friend made what Christopher and his wife Jennifer Johnson now say was a life-changing suggestion.
At times comatose, sedated, and hooked to tubes, Christopher spent three months at Acuity Hospital of South Texas before being transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, after he was strong enough to breathe without the help of a ventilator or tracheostomy.
On October 30th, Christopher and Jennifer, of San Antonio marked the one-year anniversary of Christopher’s discharge from Acuity, and visited the doctors, nurses, and physical therapists who treated him and who, the couple believe, contributed to the miracle of saving his life.
Long-term acute care facilities, like Acuity Specialty Hospital of San Antonio, which is located downtown in a modern building with 30 beds in private rooms, provides complex care to critically ill patients for long durations.
Christopher’s healthcare crisis began back in May 2016 when he was rushed to the emergency room of San Antonio Medical Military Center in San Antonio. He was experiencing aches and pains, and was flush with fever. He also had a sore on his toe that was causing a great deal of pain.
After doctors ran a series of tests, he was diagnosed with leukemia and was admitted to the hospital.
While there, he received his first round of chemotherapy. Soon after, during an endoscopy, he showed signs of distress. He had trouble breathing and was transferred to the intensive care unit. During his 71-day there, his kidneys failed and he was put on dialysis.
He also was intubated three separate times, was connected to a ventilator, and was placed on a rotational bed, a high-tech contraption that helps alleviate lung pressure and restore normal breathing.
While his wife watched from the wings, Christopher’s body continued to fail, until the medical team was forced to use extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, which provides long-term breathing and heart support. The procedure is used when all standard treatments have been tried. After he stabilized, palliative care was then recommended.
After visiting Acuity, Jennifer had Christopher transferred and admitted. She says she put her trust in her faith that the staff would be able to heal her husband. Though, everyone at Acuity contributed to getting Christopher back on his feet, the couple say Mary Hasler, a respiratory therapist, was at “the top” of her game and made a true difference in the couple’s lives.
While her husband was there, Jennifer discovered she had Stage 1 breast cancer during a free mammography screening. She was treated with chemotherapy and radiation.
The couple are both in remission from their cancers. In the near future, Christopher will receive a bone marrow transplant from his brother.
We wish Christopher and Jennifer continued strength and love from their Acuity family.