Mother and Child Reunion
NCI Company Driver, Alex Shorba – I was on a load headed to Denver for a delivery. I was not feeling well in Albuquerque, NM. I thought I had gotten the flu, so I stopped to rest and get over it. I began vomiting as I became sicker. Weekend driver manager, Ed Adams, was on the phone with me, but I was too weak to give him directions to the truck. He used my in cab communication device to determine my location and called an ambulance. The medical personnel took me to the hospital. I remember being admitted to ER. I still thought I had the flu. By the next morning, I was out of it.
NCI Director of Safety and Compliance, Jill Maschmeier – We had been trying to reach Alex when I received a call from a social worker at the Albuquerque hospital notifying me Alex Shorba was in a medically induced coma. She needed Alex’s emergency contact information. The information we had on file did not lead to a contact. I conducted an internet search for the surname Shorba, thinking it was an unusual name and I should find someone to connect to Alex. After several searches and attempts, I contacted a school where Alex’s sister-in-law, Kathy worked. I left a message stating Alex was in trouble and needed his family. His brother John called me to get a good number for the hospital contact and for information about Alex. John and Alex had not spoken to each other in over 20 years. Alex was also estranged from his mother who had been searching for him.
Mother of NCI company driver Alex Shorba, Linda Walters – I was surprised when I got the call from John. I had been searching for Alex to reconnect for many years. When my children were young we lived in Minnesota. I was amazed when I heard he was in a hospital in Albuquerque since I live 30 minutes south of Albuquerque. When I reached the hospital I was dumbfounded. There lay my son on a ventilator with assorted tubes running in and out of him. I recognized him instantly. The doctors said he had pneumonia and H1N1 better known as “swine flu”. He was also being treated for acute respiratory distress syndrome.
AMERICAN THORACIC SOCIETY – Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a life threatening problem in which the lungs are severely injured. Inflammation (swelling) occurs throughout the lungs. In the lung tissue tiny blood vessels leak fluid and the air sacs (alveoli) collapse or fill with fluid. This fluid buildup keeps the lungs from working well. Persons with this problem will have trouble getting enough oxygen in and removing carbon dioxide from the body, and become short of breath. Persons with ARDS must be given extra oxygen and will usually need the help of a mechanical ventilator (respirator) to breathe. With medical care, many people with ARDS survive and recover. However, about 40 % of people with ARDS die from the syndrome, even with intensive treatment.
It is estimated that ARDS affects about 150,000 Americans per year. ARDS can occur in many situations, though it often affects people who are being treated for another serious illness. A person can develop ARDS even if he or she has not had lung disease or a lung condition in the past.
Jill Maschmeier – I kept in touch with Linda as Alex was in a coma. My research found 1/3 of ARDS sufferers died, 1/3 would have severe lung damage, and 1/3 would recovered and lead a normal life. I could not imagine how hard it was for his mother to set by her son’s hospital bed not knowing what his outcome would be.
Linda Walters – Alex was in the hospital for one month. For three weeks he was in the Intensive Care Unit. I was scared. I kept apologizing to the on-duty nurses. I am sure I overreacted when a buzzer buzzed or a beeper beeped thinking something horrible was happening. I talked to Alex while he was in a coma, hoping I was comforting him. I was so anxious and afraid that when he did awake, he would not want to see me. I spoke with Jill everyday giving her updates on his condition.
Alex Shorba – When I awoke I was full of the drugs they had been giving me. I was very groggy. I had no concept of time so I did not know how long I had been out. I was surprised to see my mother, but it was very comforting to see her there. During my hospital stay I had lost a lot of weight. I had difficulty standing since my muscles had not been used in a month. I had to have help getting out of bed and walking until I could build up my stamina.
Jill Maschmeier – I put together a “National Carriers Care” package and sent it to the hospital for when Alex woke up. I wanted him to know we were back here praying for him and rooting for his full recovery.
Alex Shorba – The gifts from NCI were a nice surprise. NCI had sent a recovery team to get my truck while I was in the hospital so I was able to go home with my mother to further recover. In time I am expected to fully recover. Since then, we have travelled to St. Joseph, MO to visit my brother John and his wife, Kathy.
Linda Walters – Things happen for a reason. Alex’s situation happened when and where it happened for a reason. It’s a miracle. What a great present for a mother to receive.