Jen Ludwin’s Story

Little did I know what started as a simple sore throat would change my life forever. A student at Ohio State University in 2009, I was just settling in as a first year Master’s student in the Human Development and Family Science program. On October 14, I went to the emergency department at OSU Medical Center when my simple sore throat progressed to a flu-like symptoms. There I received the shocking diagnosis of H1N1 and quickly my condition spiraled into a series of life-threatining complications including multi-organ failure, gangrene, a neck abscess, and gastrointestinal bleeding. I had 18 major surgeries that included bilateral below-knee amputations, amputations of all digits on my left hand, partial amputation of all digits on right hand, abdominal surgery, throat surgery and a thoracotomy

Three and half months after being admitted to OSUMC, I was transferred to Drake Center’s Medically Complex Unit where the care team worked to stabilize me within two weeks so I could begin the month-long intense therapies necessary to re-learn how to swallow, dress myself, bathe and walk with a prosthetic leg. Not only did the doctors and nurses help me physicially, but they also helped me heal emotionally.

Finally the day came when I was able to go home and continue my therapy as an outpatient. I was using a walker, but by the time I finished Drake’s outpatient therapies three months later, I was walking without assistance, going up and down stairs, and even jogging! My life is slowly returning to the way it was. I returned to Ohio State University in September 2010 to finish my Master’s degree and pursue a PhD. With my degrees, I aspire to become a resarcher and work with trauma and critical care patients.


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