By: Moran Nickodem (article written in patient’s own words)
Monday, May 1, 2017, I will graduate from patient care at Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington after 21 years of having my life sculpted into what it was always meant to be.
The week of May 1st is a big graduation week for me. Not only am I graduating from Shriners Medical Center, but I will also graduate from the University of Kentucky with an undergraduate degree in integrated strategic communication on Friday, May 5, 2017. As I reflect back on my 21 years of life, it is hard to believe that these two days would actually come. My story and my past are far different from most people my age, but it is unique; it is what has made me the person that I am today.
I have faced a variety of health issues in my life since birth. To this day, I have had a total of 40 surgeries, spent hundreds of days in the hospital, had over 50 different doctors and have faced death three different times. It is safe to say that I am here by a miracle from God, and because of the excellent care that I have received from my doctors at the Lexington Shriners Medical Center and various others over my lifetime.
At 3 months old, Shriners Medical Center diagnosed me with my first health disorder of hip dysplasia in the right hip. My parents were told by several doctors from several different hospitals that I would never walk, but thanks to the determination, fight and edical intervention from Dr. Iwinski, Dr. Muchow and Dr. Duncan, I beat the odds and by age five I was running on the soccer field.
Fast forward to when I was 17 years old as a senior in high school. I had undergone 17 surgeries on my hip and stomach; little did we know that this was just the start of my medical journey. One month before high school graduation I had a high-risk spinal surgery in Cincinnati, Ohio, that changed my life forever. Three days before high school graduation I was rushed by ambulance back to Cincinnati where I was diagnosed with meningitis, E. coli and seven other bacterial infections as a result from the recent spinal surgery. I woke up in the hospital on graduation day still hoping that I was going to be able to attend. Instead, I was told that I had three days to live if my body continued to resist the several different IV antibiotics that I was on. This was not how I expected my high school graduation day to go but we made the best of it. I was able to watch the graduation ceremony via Skype laying in the hospital bed as I was dressed in cap and gown while my brother walked across the stage and accepted my diploma.
I was told three different times over the course of the next few months that my chances of survival were slim to none. I accepted the news, but was determined to beat the odds yet again and that is exactly what I did! After 55 days in the hospital and an additional 17 surgeries, I was able to return home to Lexington just two weeks before I was to begin college. On August 28, 2013, I attended my first class at the University of Kentucky with a wound vac and constant IV drip machine hidden in my backpack. For three months my parents drove me to every class and waited outside to then drive to the hospital in Cincinnati for wound change appointments three times a week. As the years went on, the frequency of surgeries slowed down and my health improved.
Throughout my college career, I continued to undergo several surgeries, but I am proud to say that I never let my health affect my motivation to succeed in school. I had my last surgery on January 5, 2017, on my hip, at Lexington Shriners [Hospital]. I have been with the doctors and nurses at the Lexington Shriners Medical Center longer than I have with any other hospital. The care received over my lifetime at this facility has been nothing short of amazing. My doctors are more than just doctors to me and my family; they are our family. Graduating from Shriners [Hospital] is bittersweet, but because of the collaboration between UK Healthcare and the Lexington Shriners Medical Center, I will continue to receive expert medical care from the same doctors I have come to know and trust by walking across the pedway from Shriners Medical Center to UK HealthCare. This has been made possible by the [Lexington] Shriners Medical Center moving to the UK HealthCare Campus and opening a brand new ambulatory care center in April.
My past has made me the person that I am today. It has been quite the journey and it is hard to believe that this chapter of my life is coming to an end. I am happy to say that I do not have any surgeries or medical care planned for the first time in my life since birth!
I had my very first surgery at Lexington Shriners [Medical Center] 21 years ago and I just had my 40th and final surgery at the same place four months ago. Graduating from patient care at Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center —Lexington is an accomplishment in and of itself. However, graduating from college at the University of Kentucky next week having gone through everything that I have been through and finally being able to walk across the stage to accept my own diploma is an even bigger accomplishment.
Thank you for allowing me to tell my story and thank you to all that played a role in making my life full of prosperity and hope. Cheers to a bright future!
Congratulations Moran, You are an LEX 18 Champion of Change!
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