Patsy Tripodo: A Miraculous Recovery
By Ken Hulme
The 700 Club
Patsy Tripodo’s medical crisis began one morning when she became disoriented and accidentally put eye makeup on her cheeks! Her husband Ron took her to the hospital, and she started to spike a high fever.
Ron says, "I think she was at least 106. When the fever gets that high, it can just fry the brain."
Doctors told the family that Patsy had a ten percent chance of surviving the night because of the high fever.
So everyone began to pray. Ron believes he heard a still small voice telling him not to be afraid. He recalls, "That’s when the Lord just spoke to me and said, ‘Your wife is gonna be healed.’ He said it as clear as a bell."
Patsy survived, but within days was slipping into a coma. She had to be placed on a respirator as her brain started to swell.
Lisa Ragsdale is Patsy's best friend. She says, "She wasn’t in her right mind. She had a feeding tube. She couldn’t care for herself. It was pretty sad to see my friend so sick."
Doctors at Duke Medical Center finally diagnosed Patsy’s condition—a rare form of the herpes simplex encephalitis virus—which attacked her brain. Neurologist Dr. Darryl Kaelin explains, "The herpes virus, what we commonly think of as the cold sore virus,
can travel into the brain. When it does, it can cause a great deal of damage in the brain. I would say that Patsy’s case was probably an 8 or 9 on a severity of 1 to 10—obviously 10 meaning you die."
By now growing pressure in her brain caused paralysis on her right side. Doctors were pessimistic that she would ever function normally.
"We typically know that there is going to be life-long disability. What we mean by that is that we typically understand that people are gonna have problems with their memory, need to be supervised, and in real severe cases they often need physical help for dressing, bathing, all the things they need for their daily activities," says Dr. Kaelin.
Meanwhile as Patsy was fighting for her life in the intensive care unit, Ron got a phone call from a local car salesman, asking him if he still wanted to order that new car for his wife. Ron’s reply was a pure act of faith.
"He had no idea what was going on in my life, but I said, ‘You know what, David, she will be there to pick it up and drive it,'” Ron says.
Family members at the hospital continued to send out requests by email and phone. Within days, they saw the next encouraging signs.
Lisa says, "The next miracle for Patsy was that the paralysis was gone. The doctors were astounded. This should not be. This cannot be but it is."
But Patsy still faced her greatest challenge to date. The viral encephalitis had caused massive neurological damage in her brain her memory of nearly everything and everyone was gone. Ron moved his wife to Shepherd’s Center, the largest rehab hospital on the east coast. But Patsy still was not doing well.
"Somebody asked me if I was bringing my mother in," Ron says. "She looked like she was hundred-year-old woman. She did not look good. She had to be strapped to the wheelchair, because she would fall over. She couldn’t keep her head up. "
Lisa says, "She was going to have to learn to do everything for herself all over again."
But Lisa says she never heard Ron waver in his faith or in his affection for his wife. But she does remember watching him care for her. "Holding her and stroking her hair and face and kissing her and saying, 'Patsy I’m here. It’s Ron.’ Because at that moment she’d slipped away in her mind. She didn’t recognize anything or anyone."
Then to everyone's surprise at the rehab center, Patsy began to improve remarkably and quickly.
Dr Kaelin says, "What we saw was just a continued daily and weekly progression. She got to where she was talking better. She started using her arm more. She went from needing complete care for everything to doing 50 percent of the work on her own. By the time she left Shepherd’s Center, she was actually doing most of those things for herself."
In fact instead of months or even years in rehab, Patsy was able to leave in just four weeks. She left with no paralysis, no feeding tube, and her memory beginning to return.
For the rest of that year, Patsy did rehab as an outpatient and went back to school at a neighborhood learning center.
Ron says, "They were just amazed at how much she could absorb. You know she went from like 1st grade to 8th grade within like 2 months or 2 ½ months. It was amazing."
By the end of the year, Ron gave Patsy the present he had been saving for her—a brand new car. Patsy drove it home from the dealership that day.
Patsy says, "I just loved it. I couldn’t believe it. It was beautiful. I was so excited."
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you Patsy recovery has been remarkable. Except for occasional struggle trying to find the right words during a conversation, Patsy is almost back to normal.
"I tell people who are having problems, the best thing to do is go to God with that," she says. "Pray and He’ll help you get through that."
As for Patsy and Ron, they can’t seem to spend enough time together.
"We have a lot of fun together now," she says. "I just thank God that I have him as my husband."
Ron agrees, "Every night before I go to bed, I always kiss Patsy on the forehead and thank Jesus for keeping her with me."
By the way, if you are ever passing through Atlanta, keep an eye out for one of the many billboards that Ron paid to post , advertisements declaring “Jesus healed my wife” and the web site that tells her story.
Dr Kaelin says, "When you have the kind of damage that Patsy had to her brain…to get to a point now where she’s driving and enjoying an almost completely normal lifestyle, I would say Patsy’s recover was nothing less than miraculous. "
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