One Step At A Time

A team effort in recovery from COVID.

It was December 2022 when Donna Becker tested positive for COVID-19. At a time when many look forward to Christmas lights and gingerbread cookies, Donna was dealing with symptoms from COVID.

Around 4 days after she recovered from her COVID symptoms, Donna developed polymyositis – an uncommon inflammatory disease that causes significant muscle weakness following a COVID infection.

Donna’s muscle weakness occurred in her mid-section from her waist to her ankles, affecting both sides of her body, making it impossible for her to walk or climb stairs.

Donna and her husband Stu lived in a condominium at the Lake of the Ozarks. Their home had a staggering 24 steps up and 24 steps down anytime they wanted to go anywhere. Not being able to walk, Donna had to be carried up and down the steps, and that was not a safe or easy way for her to get around.

A close friend reached out and told Donna to get to Boone Hospital Center. “It’s the best hospital we offer in the Midwest,” they said. So, Donna and Stu packed their bags and made the trip to Columbia, Mo.

Donna received a full Boone experience while she was here. Her total hospital time ended up being around 27 days before she transferred to the Therapy Floor for 6 weeks.

When Donna first arrived at Boone Hospital in December 2022, she was being monitored in a regular room for a few days before a doctor noticed her oxygen level declining. She was moved to the ICU until her oxygen levels stabilized and was then moved back to a regular room before she transitioned to the Therapy Floor.

“The hospital staff was so accommodating to Stu,” Donna said. “There was a couch that changed into a bed, and he stayed there 24 hours a day with me for weeks. I was a little scared, so just having him there made me more comfortable.”

Once Donna arrived on the Therapy Floor, she stayed there for 6 weeks to work on her strength, with a goal of getting her walking again.

“The rehab therapists were just wonderful,” Donna said with a smile. “I just loved them. They were very professional but also extremely fun. I had to have 3 hours a day with them, and I looked forward to spending that time with them every day.”

Though Donna’s muscle function did not return to normal use before she left the hospital, she noticed that she got a tiny bit better every day. “I can walk,” Donna said, “but I can’t lift my legs or do stairs.”

Knowing they couldn’t return to the condominium with 27 steps, Stu was able to do some house hunting while Donna was in the hospital and purchased them a new home in Columbia, Mo.

A week before Donna was discharged, she was let out of the hospital for the afternoon, along with all of her therapists. Donna and her therapists walked through every room of her new home to make sure she had enough assist bars to prevent falls. “My bathroom looks like a jungle gym now,” Donna jokes.

After Donna was discharged from the hospital at the end of February 2023, Boone Health Home Care came to her home and continued her physical therapy for an additional 6 weeks.

Over Spring Break, Donna’s granddaughter came to stay with her for a few days and they decided to make some cookies for the Therapy staff. When they got to the hospital, Donna’s granddaughter pushed her in a wheelchair and the Therapy staff was so happy to see her.

“My granddaughter helped me out of the wheelchair, and I walked around that great big gymnasium several times, whooping and hollering and throwing my arms in the air. They got a big kick out of that. ‘Oh my gosh!’, they yelled. ‘You can walk!’ It was a lot of fun.”

Both Donna and Stu share the same sentiment for Boone Hospital. “We were extremely pleased with the service – from the doctors, nurses, therapists and dinning staff. We just can’t say enough good things about it!”

By Erin Wegner