Junior Leanna Swanson strolls into Hughely Memorial Hospital with a bouquet of flowers in one hand, waves hello to the well-known nurses with the other, and presses the shiny elevator button for the fifth floor. This hospital is more than familiar to her.
Swanson visits her mother, Kimberly Dickson, at Hughely Memorial Hospital, after being admitted on July 9 with what was thought to be meningitis, but later proved to be West Nile Virus.
“Honestly I couldn’t think. It was scary. I thought I was going to lose another parent,” Swanson said. “At first they thought it was meningitis, which scared me even more. I tried to regain my composure.”
After admission, Dickson received what is called a “code blue,” or a cardiopulmonary arrest. For fifteen minutes, her heart didn’t beat. Kimberly awoke with no feeling in her fingers, hands, arms, toes or legs.
After a month of having a breathing tube, she was able to have a tracheostomy to remove it. She has now been able to bend her arms past her elbows, eat on her own, and talk as of a month ago. Dickson appeared on Fox 4 News at six as well as WFAA News at six after they had found out about the story through a nurse.
“At first I felt angry, because I didn’t want my mother exposed like that,” Swanson said. “Then it grew on me that she can be the hope, light, and inspiration for people whose families are going through the same thing. They can fight for it and they can recover. Not only for people who have West Nile, but also for anyone who has a horrifying sickness. There is hope.”
Since Leanna’s father passed away three years ago because of an unexpected heart attack, Leanna has learned to appreciate the little things such as sweet childhood memories, feeling loved by a father figure, and learning how beautiful and short life is.
“I grew a lot closer to God. I realized that there is something more than just what we see here. I became a stronger person in general,” Swanson said.