What began as a simple kidney stone led Julie Borton on a harrowing health odyssey that almost took her life and had doctors proclaiming her survival a miracle.
But despite the permanent effects that cost her a career and will require extensive therapy to overcome, Borton feels only gratitude for the second chance she’s been given.
“Miracles do happen,” she said. “God is there when you need Him. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just the power of prayer.”
Borton, 59, visited the emergency room at Fulton County Health Center Nov. 6 complaining of pain. After receiving a medical scan she was told she had a kidney stone. She was sent home with medication and advised to see a urologist if the stone didn’t pass in a couple of days.
Not only did the kidney stone remain, the pain intensified. Borton made a second trip to the emergency room, and was admitted to the hospital, then to the Intensive Care Unit. There, she was told she’d be life-flighted to a hospital of her choice where she could be further treated.
“After that, I don’t remember a whole lot,” she said.
Borton had developed sepsis shock, a severe infection that can affect the body’s organs including the heart and liver. Once she arrived at St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee, doctors induced coma and performed surgery to drain toxins from the affected kidney.
After almost losing Borton during the procedure, the physicians told her husband, Mark, they needed seven days to determine whether she would survive. Then, while recuperating in the ICU, all of her organs failed, with the exception of her brain.
She was administered medication to slow her body’s muscle response in order to provide more energy to heal the organs. Unfortunately, that protocol caused gangrene to form in her fingers and toes and to begin spreading.
“They had to rob everything from my extremities to save my organs,” she said.
Borton said that’s where the prayers of a large network of concerned people intervened.
“Doctors said that my organs cleared up on their own. They said it was a miracle,” she said. “I had many, many churches praying for me. I’m healing like I am because of the prayers.”
The gangrene stopped spreading as well after her husband and the Bortons’ church pastor prayed over her. During their invocation a portion of the medical equipment attached to Borton behaved in a strange, unexplained manner, she was told.
After hearing about the incident later, she was convinced it was a heavenly sign. “God let Mark know that things were going to be okay. After that, that’s when the gangrene went dormant and stopped,” she said.
A predicted three-month stay in ICU lasted only a month before Borton was upgraded to a less critical unit, then two days later to a regular room. Her heart had suffered damage and the kidney stone was still in place, but she was alive.
She transferred to Heartland of Waterville, where she convalesced and received therapy for five weeks. While staying there, Borton underwent surgery to remove the kidney stone, but surgeons discovered it had crushed and they needed only to flush out what remained.
Due to the gangrene, the fingers on her left hand were amputated Dec. 9 at the first joint. Two weeks later, those on her right hand were removed the same way.
On Feb. 27, the gangrene also claimed the toes on her left foot. Only the tips of two may have to be removed on her right foot, but she can’t yet walk and may still require surgery.
A hairdresser in Wauseon for over 25 years, and at nursing homes in Wauseon and Archbold, Borton knows her career is probably over. She said that’s the least of her present concerns.
“Right now, I’m just concentrating on getting better. I’m just praying for healing, and I’ll go from there,” she said.
Despite what has happened to her physically, Borton feels no bitterness.
“I’m dealing with it. I cry sometimes at night,” she said. “But I think how forunate I am to still have my feet and hands. I’m so fortunate. It could have been worse.”
After her full recuperation, she would like to perform work “to encourage people that go through a lot worse than I did.” She said she and her husband will move on, thankful they’re still together.
“We are blessed beyond measure,” Borton said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.