Laurel ready to roll after a tough year
By Mark Stevens
Wild horses couldn’t keep Laurel Hotelling away this year from the annual event that bears her name, after being sidelined in the hospital just before last year’s Laurel Run. In fact, Laurel spent much of 2016 and some of 2017 in and out of various hospitals.
“It was a long haul, but we’re so thankful,” said Wayne Hotelling, Laurel’s dad. “The care was outstanding.”
That care started the night before the 2016 Laurel Run, when Laurel was taken to the emergency room at Lakeshore Hospital to be treated for a gallbladder attack. From there, she was sent to Buffalo General Hospital.
“And that’s when it dawned on her she was going to miss the Laurel Run. It’s the first one she had ever missed,” said Elaine Hotelling, Laurel’s mom.
Laurel was treated there, felt better and eventually came home. But over Labor Day weekend, when Laurel and her parents were visiting her sister Donna in New Hampshire, she suffered another gallbladder attack and spent three days in a hospital. Doctors wanted to do surgery while she was there, but her parents decided it was best to do it closer to home, friends and family, not to mention all her medical records.
Once they got home, Buffalo General scheduled the surgery for the beginning of October, but complications arose the day the procedure was to be performed, forced doctors to install a small drain and postpone the surgery until mid-November.
Yet on November 2, the day after a clean bill of health during a pre-surgery check-up, Laurel became ill at work at The Resource Center’s Mary Andrews Center in Dunkirk. Stricken with a fever that saw her temperature rise to 105 degrees, Laurel was taken to Buffalo General, where she was treated for a blood infection. While she was being treated for the infection, doctors successfully preformed the gallbladder surgery.
“Yet because of the infection, Laurel’s pacemaker had been compromised,” said Wayne.
Doctors inserted a new pacemaker in late November, but her blood pressure dropped so Laurel was kept in intensive care. On December 23, doctors performed a tracheotomy and continued to keep her on a respirator. On December 28 she was moved to Select Specialty Hospital. Located in Erie, PA, the facility specializes in respiratory cardiology. Laurel was later taken off the respirator but kept on the trache.
Laurel’s extended hospital stays in Buffalo and Erie meant that Wayne and Elaine logged a lot of miles.
“We went in every day. We never missed a day,” said Elaine.
“Very thankful I had Elaine, and I think we depended a great deal on each other. And we had a tremendous body of support both in and outside the hospital.” said Wayne. “I asked people to please pray for our daughter. It was tough at times, but you’ve got to believe. Our faith has always been a big part of our life.”
While Laurel was in Select Specialty, she developed another infection. Once the infection was successfully treated, doctors decided they could start taking Laurel off of the respirator.
“It was tough. You’re dealing with someone who has diabetes, plus a host of other issues,” said Wayne.
Laurel spent all of January and February at SSH. She turned 54 years old in February, and she got a nice birthday present when her sister Diane visited from North Carolina. Laurel’s birthday is the day before Diane’s.
“She was so glad to have her there, to see her,” said Wayne.
On February 23, two months to the day it had been installed, doctors removed Laurel’s trache and released her. She was still on oxygen, but she was headed home after being hospitalized for 113 days.
“You think of everything that had taken place, and you’re so thankful for friends, for prayer, for the doctors, the aides, the people in the cafeteria, everyone,” said Wayne. “And we know that prayer works.”
“From here on, we know she’s just going to get better and better,” said Elaine.
Prayers were needed again in mid-March when she was sent back to Buffalo General Hospital after coming down with pneumonia. She was eventually released after several days of treatment.
Laurel continued to recuperate at her parent’s house for about two months. When she was feeling better and had regained her strength, she returned to her TRC home on Birchwood Drive in Fredonia, and went back to work on a part-time basis.
Since then, Laurel has been in and out of Buffalo General Hospital. She came home Monday, July 3, and her parents hope that she is out of the hospital for good and can continue to recuperate at their house.
And Laurel no doubt will have a big smile on her face as she takes center stage at this year’s Laurel Run, though she likely will be without her signature three-wheeled cycle.
If you can’t make it to Laurel Run this year but would like to make a donation in support of Laurel and her family, please click here.