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Carol’s story is every family’s worst nightmare: pregnant with their second child, Carol contracted a bacterial infection, strep pneumonia, which became septic. Carol was rushed to the hospital in excruciating pain and heard doctors around her say, “We have to get the baby out now!”
The doctors performed an emergency C-section and Carol’s daughter, Safiya, was born underweight but healthy. Carol’s health, however, was rapidly declining. Carol was put into a medically induced coma for 20 days and as a result of the sepsis, both her feet and legs from the knee down were amputated as well as her left hand. She had to have skin grafts on over 30 percent of her body. Carol also went blind.
After about 90 days in the hospital, Carol returned home. She begged her husband to bring her back, saying it wasn’t fair to him or her daughters to have to take care of her. Scott, Carol’s husband, says they decided to give it a year and work as hard as they can, and then reevaluate.
Carol says she cried every day but knew she had to fight. When her physical therapist put on her prosthetic legs for the first time Carol told herself, “I can do this.” Carol has made great strides in her recovery but shares that the accomplishment she is most proud of is being a mother to her two daughters. “Every morning I wake up happy because I’m alive and I just embrace that moment every day,” shares Carol.
Carol joins The Doctors and ER physician expert Dr. Travis Stork wants to know where she dug deep to find that strength. Carol says her family is her biggest strength and says her support system has been immense. Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra commends Carol for being such an amazing example to her family. She asks about some of the goals Carol met.
Carol shares that she has always wanted to go skiing as a family. She remembered a ski chair being used when she was at an inpatient rehab and it stuck with her. In 2014, she took an eight-week class to sit-ski and that February her family all skied together. “To hear my daughters go by me and say ‘hi mommy’ was the best sound ever.”
OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry says she assumes every day is not easy. She asks if Carol has hard days and if she does, how does she turn them around.
Carol says she for sure has hard days! She shares it was something her psychotherapist said that stuck with her and made her live a certain way. The therapist had said that Carol can’t live in the past. Carol was making all of these goals but she didn’t know what the future would hold, so she needed to enjoy and be in the present. Carol stays grateful for every moment and experience with her children.
Dr. Batra then asks about the first time Carol shared her story. Carol says it was at a church group and even though she cried the entire time she spoke, it was rewarding for women to come up to her after and thank her for sharing her story. “To be able to give back and turn something bad into something good made me feel empowered.”
Carol’s entire story is in her book, “Unshattered: Overcoming Tragedy and Choosing a Beautiful Life.”