A common cold
turned into a four-week coma
Renee Power credits her beloved dad with helping bring her back from the other side after she was struck down with a deadly illness and left in a coma earlier this year.
“I feel lucky that I woke up – it could have been so much worse,” says Renee, 21, as she expertly navigates her electric wheelchair around Fiona Stanley Hospital.
“Mum thinks I’ve come back a brat, because I speak my mind now, but life is short!”
Doctors blame swelling of the brain – viral encephalitis – for Renee’s total body shutdown on March 27, but she and her mum thought she was suffering from a cold when the ordeal began.
“It started with a runny nose and sore throat, but by the end of day two I had a splitting headache and fever,” says Renee.
She also thinks the grief of suddenly losing her much-loved dad Craig two years ago at age 50 affected her health. But she credits her dad with bringing her back from the brink, saying his spirit told her to fight on.
“Dad was pushing me back to life,” says Renee of her message from beyond the grave. “He told me it wasn’t my time and I had to go back to Mum.”
Carmela, 51, says she never dreamed her daughter would be at death’s door a day after she put her to bed with ibuprofen and a cold flannel, thinking she had a common cold.
“Renee was vague and semiconscious, so we raced her to the local doctor who treated her for suspected meningitis, and that probably saved her life,” she says, adding she was so distraught she could barely eat for the month her daughter was in a coma.
“It was a living hell because there were no guarantees she’d ever wake up,” she says. “I was screaming to my [late] husband, ‘Send her back – don’t you dare take her with you.’”
After four torturous weeks of sitting by Renee’s bedside, her prayers were answered with the flutter of an eyelid. “I feel guilty for what I’ve put Mum through,” says Renee. “But I’m so thankful to be here and hope to be walking by my birthday, in September.” The Power family would like to thank Joondalup Hospital for their care of Renee. To help with medical expenses, go to au.gofundme.com/93p3jksleeping-beauty