Carrie's Story

Sometimes the unimaginable happens.

As a single mom, 44-year-old Carrie was used to a life of struggles, yet she seemed to get through them all with an inner strength. Call it perseverance – or maybe stubbornness – but Carrie did not give up easily. 

Carrie worked hard to provide for her daughter. She was independent, but devoted herself to taking care of others. Maybe that’s why it was easy for her to overlook her own needs. So a seemingly harmless wound on her leg felt like a minor issue, not something she needed to get checked right away. What she never would have guessed is how that one decision would change her life forever.

On October 28, 2015, Carrie went to bed fatigued, with a fever and chills, hoping to sleep off what she thought was the flu. But she was about to begin a traumatic journey. 

Awaking in a delusion, without a sense of place or time, Carrie was rushed to the hospital. She would be flown to the nearest trauma center for emergency surgery. Hours later, while she was comatose on advanced life support, her surgeons would give her family the diagnosis: necrotizing fasciitis. It’s a rare and terrifying disease caused by a deadly bacteria that can attack even the smallest of wounds. It had invaded the wound on her leg, spreading toxins throughout her body. Her organs were failing, and she had little chance of surviving. 

That’s when Carrie’s family experienced their first miracle: Carrie survived.

After two weeks on life support, Carrie woke up to a world that would be forever different for her. Her body had changed due to surgery and disease, and she was looking at months, if not years, of treatments. It would be difficult and it would mean time away from her daughter. Fighter Carrie took on the challenge – but it would be more painful than she could ever have imagined.   

She would undergo ten more surgeries, countless trips back and forth between hospitals, wound care clinics, nursing homes, and a two-day stay in her own home where she was without crucial medical support. After months in this cycle of medical chaos, Carrie had deteriorated mentally and physically. She couldn’t get out of bed. She had wounds all over her body, and the treatments were so excruciatingly painful, she couldn’t take it anymore. Depression and disease had crushed her once vibrant spirit. 

When the doctors told Carrie’s father, Forrest, that her infection had become resistant to antibiotics, that her body was shutting down, he asked to call Angela Hospice, because of the care his wife Diane’s mother had received. The family met with the admissions team, and Carrie was transferred to the Angela Hospice Care Center.

Sisters Kim, Carrie, and Denise circa 1975.
“Do you know how important Angela Hospice is?” asked Carrie’s sister Kim. “It was like a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I don’t think anyone really understood the amount of pain she was in until she was at Angela Hospice,” Kim said. “This is the only place that I saw her peaceful for the last three weeks of her life, where she wasn’t in constant pain and constant emotional distress.”

At the Care Center, Carrie was transformed. For the first time in months, she was being treated like a person – not a disease. With her pain under control after so much suffering, she began to smile again – that smile that could light up a room. She was even cracking jokes. Carrie was coming back. 

Her family was able to spend time with the real Carrie, the strong-willed person who had emerged after spending months crushed by pain and hopelessness. Now they saw her getting the care she needed – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And it was making a difference.

“The team helped her restore her dignity,” Forrest said.

During those three weeks, the bond between Carrie and her family was unbreakable. They cherished the time they got with her.

“I think she was just happy that we were here, because it was the one thing she asked of us: to stay,” said Carrie’s sister Denise. 

With the closure that came from healing mentally, and spiritually, and after coming to peace with her condition, Carrie died on August 25, 2016. As for her family, they were grateful that Carrie was able to face the end of life on her own terms and in her own way: with dignity and respect. Now they hope her story will help others. 

“It was a 10-month journey that was something none of us ever believed we’d ever take,” said Kim. “But what mattered the most and what I want people to understand is the miracles that happened here. We wanted the miracle for Carrie to survive, but sometimes the miracle you want and the miracle you get are two different things. So the miracle we got instead was the one we never knew we really needed – and that was the miracle of what happened at Angela Hospice. 

Carrie with her father, Forrest.
“Three of the biggest miracles were they gave us the time no one ever said we had; it gave us Carrie back; and it gave her back her dignity, which was huge for her.”

Carrie was able to spend her final weeks in the Care Center through her Medicaid coverage. Carrie qualified for Medicaid after an injury permanently prevented her from doing the job she had been so dedicated to, working as a direct care manager at a facility for the developmentally disabled. 

Medicaid, a state and federally funded program for low-income individuals, is a godsend for people like Carrie. But the Medicaid funding that Angela Hospice receives only covers a fraction of the actual cost of caring for patients like Carrie. The funding is very limited too. In fact, by March Angela Hospice will already have used all of its Medicaid funding for the year – funds that won’t be replenished for another seven months. With the rising number of Medicaid patients reaching out to Angela Hospice for care, Angela Hospice will only be able to care for Medicaid patients in the Care Center through the donor-driven Good Samaritan Program.

We need your help now to bridge the Medicaid funding gap. Please help us continue to care for all those who need us. Your gift can make a miracle for someone like Carrie.

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