Patient recovers with only 30 percent chance of surviving

(In article mentions seeing God. “I saw God,” Durning said. “I was floating peacefully towards a beautiful light and an old friend sent me back saying I wasn’t ready.”)



January 25, 2020 - Reported [here]. Tomsriver – After already having a tough few years, from losing her father, going through a divorce and having her children move out, Melissa Durning was faced with the hardest challenge of her life.

In February of 2020, she had to fight for her life at the age of 47 against the flu. Durning went to the emergency room on February 14 not feeling well. She was eventually discharged with no diagnosis. Two days later, her condition grew worse and she was back in the hospital after she became unresponsive and her lips turned blue.

Durning was diagnosed with severe influenza A, double pneumonia and sepsis. She was soon in a coma, intubated and fighting kidney failure. She also had a tracheotomy feeding tube and chest tube inserted. At this point, her family was told she had a 30 percent chance of surviving.

“I saw God,” Durning said. “I was floating peacefully towards a beautiful light and an old friend sent me back saying I wasn’t ready.”

After two months, Durning regained full consciousness, but because of low blood pressure, her foot had to be amputated. This led to Durning undergoing surgery resulting in a further amputation of her left leg, just below her knee.

Melissa was then admitted to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Toms River after her surgery to help regain her independence. She spent 13 days at Encompass Health and received inpatient therapy. This included strengthening, balance training, coordination, edema management, energy conservation training, equipment training, focused breathing, activities of daily living and caregiver training. Registered nurses were available 24/7; physiatrists and respiratory therapists were there to help Durning during her recovery.

Melissa was able to enjoy the beach with a friend after she was discharged from Encompass Health Toms River. She expressed how she could feel the sand between her toes and got to swim in a pool.

“It was so freeing,” Durning said.

In September of 2020, Durning finally received her prosthetic leg which had sunflower designs on it. Although she had her prosthetic leg, she wasn’t able to use it just yet, since her wound hadn’t healed as expected.

About one month later, Durning went back to the hospital for a debridement procedure to help heal her wound on her left leg. She soon returned to Encompass Health Toms River for prosthesis training, where she did gait training to help her improve her stride, group therapy, orthotic interventions, orthotic training, posture and body mechanics training, stair training, stretching and a home assessment to make modifications to better suit her needs.

“Everybody at Encompass Health Toms River makes you feel you can do it,” Durning said. “It’s like you are handed the keys to the kingdom or the way out of the maze. The tools they gave me are irreplaceable. I love it so much at Encompass Health, I want to come back and work here.”

Durning had completed her inpatient rehabilitation stay, but her recovery isn’t over. She’s positive that she’ll be able to live her life to the fullest in the future.

“I want to do things that scare the hell out of me,” Durning said. “God kept me here for a reason.”

Durning plans on returning to Encompass Health not as a patient, but to show her therapists what she continues to accomplish after her rehabilitation stay. She also plans to join the hospital’s support group to show other amputees that with positivity and determination, you can overcome the challenges in front of you.

“My stay at Encompass Health gave me strength and confidence,” she said. “I feel I won’t give up.”