UPDATE: Aimee Copeland can move hands, has positive spirit

By: Hope Jensen, Kara Apel Email
By: Hope Jensen, Kara Apel Email
Aimee Copeland

Aimee Copeland is battling a flesh-eating disease in a local hospital. (WRDW-TV / May 9, 2012)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As a 24-year-old woman battles flesh-eating bacteria at an Augusta hospital, family and friends are praying for her recovery.

Aimee Copeland acquired necrotizing faciitis after falling from a zipline and cutting her leg.

A news conference was held at Wednesday afternoon to give updates on Aimee's condition.

Her family says Aimee can move her hands, although her fingers are mummified. She is aware of the possibility of losing her fingers and her father said she was relatively unfazed by he news. He said it is a testament to Aimee's strength.

She is not aware that her leg has been amputated at this time. Her parents say they are operating on a don't ask, don't tell policy at the moment. If she asks them about her leg, they will tell her, but until then they see no reason to dampen her spirits.

Doctors thought they would have to amputate her other foot but may not have to, as Aimee's foot is doing better.

Her breathing tube has been removed from her throat, and they are looking forward to "Aimee Day," a nickname for the day when she'll be able to breathe on her own. Right now, the respirator is inserted through her trachea.

Her family is really trying to keep the positive energy up and says Aimee is still not aware of the national attention she is getting.

She is aware of the blood drives, her father's big push since the beginning of this whole ordeal. They said Aimee was amazed by the amount of blood donations they have already received.

On Tuesday, a blood drive at University of West Georgia brought in around 250 people. They were not set up for that many and had to turn some away. They have scheduled another drive for Friday, June 1.

Her father, Andy Copeland, issued a challenge to both the University of South Carolina and the University of Georgia. He wants the universities to go head to head to see who can give the most blood and even urged football coaches Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier to attend.

The Shepeard Blood Community Center will hold a blood drive May 18 in Augusta and Evans. Aimee's family is asking that you donate blood in her name. The blood will go to help Aimee and many others throughout the area.

From Andy Copeland: Tuesday, May 15, 5:32pm EST
"We were told by the doctors that Aimee would have a roller coaster ride of highs and lows over the next few days, weeks and months. Personally I don’t like the roller coaster analogy. The best part of a roller coaster ride is when you are falling, because although it can be terrifying, it is extremely exhilarating. Sooner or later the ride has to slow down and crest another incline. The inclines tend to be ho-hum, a time to catch your breath and smile at the person sitting next to you. As you near the top, the anticipation builds until the terrifying exhilaration repeats itself. This is not what it is like with Aimee.

Each day we claim some small victory. We don’t have to see physical progress, we seem to take comfort from simple words, silly actions and quiet moments. That is not to say that there are not concerns, but they are quickly snuffed out and the doctors are left once again scratching their heads.

Speaking of doctors, we have an amazing assortment of brilliant minds focusing on Aimee. Their attention to detail astonishes me. Their accessibility is greater than I could have ever anticipated. Their compassion is extraordinary. Aimee and all the other patients in ICU are their family. If you could go out and recruit the best medical minds and the most caring hearts in the world, I am convinced that these are the men you would assemble. Their personalities range from House to Patch Adams and all points in between. I love them all.

The nurses are quite similar. They are hard-working, diligent, compassionate and loving. Many of them are mothers and fathers and they share the faith that bonds you and I together through prayer. Even the nurses who do not work with Aimee stop by to talk with us at their shift change. They tell us how Aimee’s progress baffles and inspires them. They listen to us while we play with Aimee. They laugh and smile at our frolicking. We smile back.

There is nothing in the world like being loved. Donna, Paige, Aimee and I have always shared our love with smiles and laughter. We tend to be a loud family, which is probably my 'fault.' I am a loud person, but I am loud for a reason. I started playing guitar at the age of 14 and my first guitar was electric, not acoustic. Needless to say, after a few years of playing in bands and helping other bands “road” their gear, my hearing is not the best. I have tinnitus, which is a high pitched tone in both ears that grows to a roar when I am tired. My ears have been roaring a lot lately. That’s why I tend to be loud. If you hear my voice above all others, it doesn’t mean I am angry or mad, it usually means I’m tired because I am trying to talk above the roar. This loudness is often offensive to many, but I cannot help myself. Donna and Paige will often tell me to quiet down, which helps.

Guess who else is loud? If you guessed Aimee, then you are correct. If you get us both together in a restaurant, the volume often increases to a feverish pitch and quieter patrons start casting annoyed frowns in our direction. Sorry folks, this is how we roll.

So now you can imagine what Aimee’s ICU room is like. It is loud in there. We certainly do not intend to disturb the other patients, but we just like to laugh and have fun. Here’s how last night went:

'Hey Aimee-beetle-bush-kee!' Paige squeaks as Aimee opens her eyes. Aimee’s eyes are opened wide and her mouth forms a crescent that spreads as far as her ventilator strap will allow.

'Hey Paige! Aimee mouths.

'I love you Aimee!' Paige says as she reaches and touches Aimee on the arm and shoulder.

'I love you too, Paige!'

The sisterly exchange continues and Aimee starts asking questions. Unlike before, she doesn’t ask where she is or how she got there, she asks how Paige’s boyfriend is doing.

'He’s doing great Aimee,' Paige replies. Paige goes on to say that her boyfriend has assembled a chicken coop and that he has acquired some hens to lay eggs. She further explains the need for a ceramic egg to increase overall egg production.

'You see Aimee, the hens are all jealous of each other. If one lays two eggs, then the rest will try to lay more.'

I think I saw the nurses making notes. I know I learned something new.

Aimee mouthed some jumbled words while she frowned and shook her head. Paige somehow picked right up on it.

'No Aimee, he isn’t going to eat the hens, he just wants them to lay eggs.'

Aimee smiled and mouthed, 'I like eggs, too.'

The nurse said that Aimee had told her that she was bored, so she turned on the TV. After about 10 minutes, Aimee asked her to turn it off. Too many annoying commercials.

'Aimee, it there anything you want?' Paige asked her. 'Perhaps some music?'

Aimee shook her head and mouthed some words. I couldn’t tell what she said, but Paige picked up on it right away.

'You want to read?'

Aimee nodded furiously.

Reading has always been Aimee’s first love, even going back to when I used to read her the Bert and Ernie Bath Time book. I read that book so much I have it memorized to this day.

'Tubby time is so much fun
Rubber ducky you’re the one!
You don’t know how good it feels
To wash my ears and scrub my heels
I rub and rub ’til I’m all dry
Then it’s time for beddy bye.'

OK, I admit that waxing nostalgic isn’t always such a good thing.

The other thing that Aimee asked for took us a bit by surprise. Some of the simplest words can take minutes to decipher when you have a tube interfering with your lips and movement of your jaw.

“That looks like an L, does the word start with an L?”

Nod.

Bless her heart, her enunciation was very difficult to comprehend.

“Lamb chops?” I asked.

Donna, Paige and Aimee all frowned at me, so I clammed up.

The nurse was standing at the foot of the bed. Clearly she saw something no one else saw.

'Aimee honey, are you trying to say LAPTOP?'

Aimee smiled real big and nodded intensely. ’Lamb chops’ was actually pretty close.

Paige then told Aimee that she got Aimee a gift, but she forgot to bring it. Aimee’s eyes became wide with excitement, which reminded me of the same look I had seen on many Christmases and birthdays. We all laughed at Aimee’s wide-eyed anticipation and the nurses were laughing as we de-gowned and walked out of the room.

'It sounds like a game show in there!' Nurse Kathy said.

Yep, we’re loud and we have fun. That’s how we roll.

I hopped in the car with Paige as she drove back toward our temporary residence. Paige reached for her iTouch to cue some music.

'Do you have any Chicago?' I asked her.

'Yeah, I have Greatest Hits. Why?'

I grabbed the iTouch and cued it up. The refrain was all I wanted to hear.

'Feelin’ Stronger Every Day!
Feelin’ Stronger Every Day!
Feelin’ Stronger Every Day!'

God Bless and good night."


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