GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) On Dec. 9, 2013 Pam Buschle was rushed to the emergency room following a routine surgery, where she learned she had developed a rare form of Sepsis. She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, and in order to survive, she had to make the decision to amputate both her arms and legs to redirect blood flow to her vital organs.
Pam’s Husband, Marty Buschle recalls her struggle in the intensive care unit during her six week admittance.“Two days after she was admitted at around 3:00 am we were told she wasn’t going to make it, but she beat it.” Marty was told that Pam’s chance of survival was less than 1 percent.
Pam never gave up, and on Jan. 24, 2014 she was released from the ICU. Pam’s next step was to begin rehabilitation, and both Pam and Marty were convinced that Mary Free Bed was the right place. “I knew I needed to get to Mary Free Bed, said Pam, I needed to get to a place that knew how to help me recover.”
Steven Bloom, D.O., a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and a long time friend and neighbor of Pam and Marty, assisted with Pam’s recovery from the emergency room, to the rehab center.
“I’ve been lucky to know Pam for over 20 years now, Bloom shared, we are neighbors, we’re friends, our kids go to school together, and it was difficult for me to take on her case when she was so sick.” Dr. Bloom understood that Pam’s case was unique, as it is very uncommon to see an amputee with all four limbs removed aside from war victims.
In tandem with learning to use basic prosthetics, Pam also began training with an electric hand through a computer program. This allowed her to target specific muscles, and begin to flex, strengthen, and extend with her prosthetics. Pam’s dream to walk again also became a reality.
On May 30, 2014, with the aid of a walker, Pam walked out of Mary Free Bed on two prosthetic legs and a pair of stylish sandals. Her friends and family, many dressed in pink and wearing tiaras, cheered her on. Pam recalled her time at Mary Free Bed, expressing that her recovery from this traumatic disease wouldn’t have been possible without the relationship she built with the therapists, nurses, and doctors along the way.
“Being able to use my life to give back as much as possible to people who might have lost hope, that is the opportunity I have gained from all of this,” said Pam.
“Pam’s story is one of friendship, family, community, and the will to survive,” said Bloom, “I was able to watch Pam and her family fight through this entire process everyday, and it’s been a pleasure and a thrill to help them get through this.”
June 2, 2014 Pam began therapy as a Mary Free Bed outpatient. She continues participating in two hours of therapy, physical and occupational, three or four days a week. Pam not only returned to her life at home, she also returned to Brookwood and Challenger elementary schools in Kentwood where she has been a social worker for nearly 25 years to visit the children.
Pam’s story of courage and perseverance is an inspiration to all who know her, and her fight to beat the odds is truly incredible.